Right on Target Analysis

Materials Scientists (Academics and Industrial)

NanoScope Services offers 3 high end services in sample preparation and Analysis.

Focused Ion Beam (FIB) provides many possibilities for preparing sections not possible using more conventional mechanical polishing or sectioning methods.

Ion Beam imaging may be done with secondary electrons or ions and offers greater materials contrast than SEM imaging. Unlike electrons, the information comes from the top few nm’s of the sample, and resolutions are comparable at 5nm’s or less.

For a detailed description of the equipment and techniques available, go to the Tools and Techniques page.

FIB prepared Micro Cross-sections with SE/SI imaging.

A FIB microscope can precisely locate and section any feature on a sample and directly take images of it. Multiple slices (even with different orientations) can be taken through the same feature to provide 3D information.

There are 4 clear advantages

  1. It is ECONOMICAL, EASY and FAST. Preparing a conventional mechanical section through a complex material takes time. FIB is efficient, versatile and cost effective, with samples processed quickly and the images emailed directly to you.
  2. EXACT LOCATION and ORIENTATION – a FIB micro section may be prepared at a very precise location on the specimen surface. This can be through a specific feature or failure, interface or particle, even a crack or void. The orientation of the section may also be defined. Multiple sections may be taken through the same feature or in very close proximity, with each one being uniquely positioned and orientated as desired.
  3. MATERIALS INDEPENDENT – The FIB process is largely independent of materials hardness or structure. Softer materials do not smear, harder materials are polished at similar rates to softer ones, and interfaces are preserved.
  4. MINIMAL MECHANICAL PREPARATION is required for FIB processing. If the sample is small enough to be loaded and is clean and vacuum compatible it can be sectioned.

FIB Prepared ‘Ultra thin’ TEM sections.

This tried and tested process has been used routinely for many years and successfully applied by NanoScope to prepare customers samples from over 200 materials systems.

There are 4 clear advantages

  1. EXACT LOCATION and ORIENTATION – Have your ‘ultra thin’ section prepared from exactly where you would like. Specify the orientation of each section as well.
  2. MATERIALS INDEPENDENT – The FIB milling process is largely independent of materials hardness or structure. Complex materials combinations and devices are possible to prepare within a single section.
  3. ‘LARGE’ IMAGING AREA – A FIB prepared section tends to be of uniform imaging thickness and quality, allowing information to be collected across the majority of the section area.
  4. MINIMAL MECHANICAL PREPARATION. Most samples are immediately acceptable for FIB processing without embedding and slicing or cleaving and grinding. If it is clean and small enough, vacuum compatible and has a flat(ish) top surface it can probably be loaded immediately.

TEM Analysis of FIB prepared sections

A variety of TEM instruments may be used for your high end imaging and analysis requirements.

Select the analytical TEM techniques you require from this list of capabilities:-

  1. Bright/Dark field imaging with referenced metrology as required.
  2. Diffraction patterns taken from your specified points.
  3. Elemental Analysis either as points, linescans or maps to identify which materials are present and their locations.

For more detailed information about TEM Analysis please contact us.

An Ion Beam image of a TEM section machined through a high speed transistor showing grain structure and voiding.

An Ion Beam image of a FIB prepared TEM section prior to ex-situ extraction to TEM grid.

An ion beam image of a site specific TEM section machined through a MEMS cog prior to extraction to grid.


Microscopy accessories and services

Nanometer scale orientation and strain imaging upgrades for TEM’s

IC Decap, MEMS Gel coat removal and ‘through WL-CSP’ FIB edit capabilities available now.

NanoScope has brought Dual-Acid decapsulation in-house, and extended those capabilities. This equipment was part of a larger equipment acquisition and more FA and other capabilities will become available over the next few weeks. By bringing these capabilities in-house we can further reduce the turnaround time of decap work for our semiconductor customers needing urgent Failure Analysis or Circuit Nano-Surgery (Circuit Edit), while ensuring that the quality remains high and the costs remain low. We are very pleased to have increased the depth of expertise within our organisation for supporting a wider range of Failure Analysis applications beyond Circuit Nano-surgery, high end microscopy and physical device analysis. Gel-coat removal for MEMS devices For MEMS clients needing access to Gel coated devices for Failure Analysis, Structural Analysis or Structural modifications with FIB, we have also added a chemical etch  process for packaged MEMS devices.  This service is available with the same fast-turnaround as our other services. A New FIB process for accessing a device ‘through a WL-CSP package’. Circuit Nano-Surgery to a device already packaged with CSP and RDL layers, can now be easily achieved without removing the package in most cases. CSP diagram Working through a CSP layer adds a little time to a surgical process, but has only a small effect on the efficacy or yield of a surgical intervention. Testing advantages WL-CSP packaging can also be a shortcut for the high speed testing of 1st Silicon engineering devices prior to FlipChip packaging. Working through these layers means that more complex edits can be performed ‘top-down’, with lower costs and higher yields, producing some significant time and cost savings....

Accelerating MEMS development with FIB Nano-Surgery

In this article I will be discussing why the growth in MEMS development is lagging the growth that was witnessed for IC development in many respects – but highlighting that there are valuable lessons available to accelerate future growth too.Both for design and manufacture there are non-trivial challenges that continue to hinder the growth of this technology in the way IC technology developed. The emergence of Fabless MEMS design houses as a successful model is only just starting to expand. The promise of successfully mimicking Fabless Chip design houses as a functioning corporate model, has not happened as expected. Fabless growth is limited by many factors such as an absence of standardisation, a diverse range of foundry capabilities, and also that MEMS behavioural modelling is still the poor cousin of IC modelling.Independent MEMS foundries are also struggling to mimic the growth seen by their IC brethren. The lack of standardisation and the variety of FAB processes required to support a broad spectrum of MEMS designs, continues to be a hindrance. Routine volume based profits available from a dial-up/high yield/integrated process are proving elusive. Every MEMS Foundry is offering a different toolset and process book, and yields/costs can still be variable. Because the range of applications is so diverse, it is difficult to streamline or standardise the manufacturing process for clients supporting different markets. There are no ‘off the shelf’ processes that can be equally applied to devices as varied as a microphone and a gyroscope, and the old adage of ‘1 process/1 product’ is proving to be difficult to overcome. This situation is further complicated by the introduction of MEMS...

The Problem With Copper Bond Wires…. For Designers

In this short piece I’m linking Semi Design groups to an increasingly important discussion in the Semi Failure Analysis group. Here’s the link Why? Because materials decisions made about bonding and packaging are not just downstream from the design process, they have important effects on how a Design cycle can be shortened by facilitating – or inhibiting – verification, modification and test. As a Failure Analyst the reasons for getting into packages while leaving the devices functional is obvious (to understand problems) and is an important step as you can see from the active discussion linked here. But as a FIB-Chip Design-Nano Surgeon supporting design teams with circuit edit, I also need routine access to functional opened devices. Using FIB Nano-Surgery in the Design Verification process is quite commonplace, either to confirm metal fixes before implementing layout changes, or getting 1st Silicon through test and starting applications board testing. So the link between how you correct a design flaw and open a package, is increasingly important for shortening design times. The move from Gold to Copper bond wires shaves a finite fraction from the cost of bonding a device, but also presents an additional challenge for opening up these packages. The discussion here shows many different approaches being tried as people try to adapt the Gold or Aluminium compatible ‘opening’ processes and existing hardware, to handle Copper (instead of instantly dissolving it). Decap tool vendors provide valuable insight with information about their latest Copper specific solutions. The danger is that the unpredictable and sometimes involved process of Design Verification and specifically FIB nano-surgery, may not have been fully factored in to that cost/material decision along...
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