(Nasdaq:FEIC), a leading provider of three-dimensional (3D) molecular, cellular
and atomic-scale imaging systems, today announced the new Falcon(tm) Direct
Electron Detector for its Titan(tm) and Tecnai(tm) transmission electron microscopes
(TEMs). The Falcon is based upon direct electron detection that enables the
acquisition of low-noise images of delicate biological samples and other beam-sensitive
materials that require low electron dose interactions to prevent radiation damage
of the material.
"We expect this new detector to revolutionize electron microscopy of biological
structures," said Matthew Harris, FEI's vice president and general manager
of the Life Sciences Division. "In these applications, imaging performance
is limited by the inherently low contrast of the sample material and the samples'
vulnerability to damage by the electron beam. The Falcon detector achieves signal
to noise ratios equivalent to CCD cameras at a fraction of the electron dose.
Conversely, at the maximum tolerable dose for a given sample, the Falcon detector
delivers significant improvements in noise, contrast and resolution."
Limiting exposure to the electron beam is particularly important for biological
samples that are primarily composed of a few relatively electron-sensitive elements
and offer little intrinsic contrast in an electron microscope. Conventional
fixing and staining techniques can improve contrast and dose tolerance, but
introduce artifacts and increase the difficulty of image interpretation. Advanced
cryo sample preparation techniques preserve biological structure but do not
enhance contrast. The vulnerability of biological structures to damage by high
energy beam electrons precludes the use of extended exposures that could otherwise
be used to improve signal-to-noise.
The Falcon is a direct electron detector with improved quantum efficiency,
capturing more information from a given electron dose, and accelerating the
rate at which the signal-to-noise ratio improves over the exposure period. The
unique design of the Falcon detector overcomes the excessive electron beam deterioration
that was previously the primary technical challenge in developing a practical
direct electron detector.
The Falcon detector offers 4K by 4K resolution and works in tandem with a CCD
camera used for surveying and samples that are not dose sensitive. It is available
for ordering in the fourth calendar quarter of 2009.