Auriga Laser: FIB-SEM Technology With Laser Option
Carl Zeiss has launched Auriga laser which combines the specific advantages of the Auriga CrossBeam (FIB-SEM) workstation with the capabilities of a pulsed micro-focus laser for fast ablation of material.
The system is particularly useful for the microscopic examination of samples where the target structure is deeply buried under material layers. To gain access to the target structure this material needs to be removed - a procedure which is difficult to conduct with conventional techniques. Mechanical ablation and cross-sectioning of large material volumes often cause deformations, making the sample unsuitable for further examination. In contrast, applying a focused ion beam is inefficient, because the process is much too slow. Ablation with a pulsed micro-focus laser beam offers clear advantages: it does not damage the sample, and it enables ablation rates comparable to mechanical removal.
The scanning laser is a nanosecond pulsed, diode-pumped solid-state laser operating at 355 nm provided by Trumpf AG (Ditzingen, Germany). In order to protect the Auriga FIB-SEM workstation and detectors from debris generated during the laser ablation process, the system is equipped with a separate chamber for laser operation. After preparing the structure of interest with the laser the sample is transferred under vacuum conditions to the main chamber for SEM examination or FIB polishing. Retrieving the target structure is achieved automatically. The transfer is carried out quickly and smoothly in a matter of seconds - resulting in a very simple and continuous workflow. To realize specific ablation patterns, the laser is equipped with CAD software controlling the scanner head. This enables the user to pre-define even highly complex patterns of the sample structure.
Statement of Dr. Martin Kienle, Director CrossBeam Product Line at Carl Zeiss
Auriga Laser is a milestone in simplifying the SEM examination of a vast range of innovative materials and structures, overcoming the limitations of conventional preparation methods.
It enables the users to carry out new applications and to examine complex structures like next- generation nano-technology processors or flexible thin film solar cells."
Future applications comprise semiconductor manufacturing, photovoltaics, polymer electronics, joining and contacting technologies, oil and gas prospection, geomechanical consulting, pharmaceuticals, life sciences and materials research in general. The system is also suitable for the preparation of microsystems that contain soft or brittle phases, such as foams, lightweight construction materials, glass fibers or ceramics, composite materials, pore filters, batteries, fuel cells or geological samples.