XEI Scientific Inc, maker of the popular EVACTRON® De-Contaminator™ Plasma Cleaning System for electron microscopes and other vacuum chambers, reports on the recent announcement that the company has been awarded a patent for its innovative TEM Wand™ technology.
An XEI TEM Wand used for low power plasma cleaning in TEMs
January 8th, 2013, was an important day in the history of XEI Scientific. The date marked the release of US Patent number 8,349,125 B2 entitled a "Cleaning Device for Transmission Electron Microscopes." The device described here is the XEI TEM Wand. It is being used to remove hydrocarbon contamination from the sample introduction and pole piece regions of TEMs. The Wand consists of a plasma cleaning device mounted on a hollow rod that replaces the specimen holder and is inserted into the instrument just as if a sample is being exchanged. The plasma is created by a small hollow cathode excited by RF power. Air, or other oxygen-containing mixtures, is admitted to the plasma through the hollow rod at a pressure below 1 Torr. The plasma creates oxygen radicals from the oxygen-containing gas which breakdown the hydrocarbon contaminants converting them to small molecular constituents which can be readily removed by the microscopes' vacuum system. The TEM Wand is easily attached to the microscope for cleaning and removed when the TEM is being used for imaging or analytical purposes.
Speaking about the patent, its inventor and President of XEI, Ronald Vane says "the most important feature of the device is that the TEM Wand brings low power plasma cleaning directly into the examination chamber of the TEM and cleans the pole piece and apertures. It can also clean the goniometer and load locks area of the TEM to remove oils and other contamination. Because it operates at very low power, the TEM cleans only by gentle chemical etch and does not cause any sputter etching damage to the pole pieces or other delicate parts of the TEM. By removing contamination, clearer and sharper images of the nanostructures being imaged are produced."
The patent is a reward for XEI Scientific's active R&D program. In addition to the new TEM Wand, the company has three patents on the basic Evactron remote plasma cleaner. Two other patents are pending while several others are in preparation. This development effort has been reflected in several new product releases in the past year including the TEM Wand which is now in use with end-users across the world.
This reflects XEI's growth strategy which is to continue to grow unit sales of its core products providing easy-to-use, reliable cleaning solutions to even more applications in vacuum-based technologies. Vane and his team look forward to the introduction of further new products developed by their R&D program which is driven by the needs of their customers.
XEI has now sold more than 1400 Evactron systems worldwide solving contamination problems in many different environments using instrumentation such as electron microscopes, FIBs and other vacuum sample chambers. Please visit our web site for the latest details.