A new project, known as the NANO-FIB project, is finding that focused ion beams can manipulate material at a smaller scale than ever before.
Led by Jacques Gierak of the Laboratory of Photonics and Nanostructure at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the NANO-FIB team have been working on the “crazy idea” that they could develop a new focused ion beam (FIB) instrument operating at a higher resolution level than ever previously encountered.
A FIB is based on a liquid metal ion source which produces an optically bright beam of ions that can be sharply focused. The active electrode is a vacuum encased fine tungsten needle coated with liquid gallium. Several kilovolts distorts the liquid into a cone and the point becomes a jet. An electrostatic device is used to focus the jet.
The new NANO-FIB machine has a current focusing capability of about 8 nm.