Benchmark Applications and Key Strengths for FIB-SEM Nanofabrication

Focused Ion Beam or FIB technology has come a long way in the last few decades. When combined with Scanning Electron Microscopy or SEM, it has become a versatile and successful technique with multiple applications. Besides microscopy and lab analysis, the FIB column is also used as an add on component for basic patterning tasks and sample preparation in the FIB-SEM microscopes. In addition FIB is now being used as a nanofabrication tool and for providing direct resistless 3D patterning. It complements top-down lithography instrumentation. The Raith FIB-SEM design is focused on the FIB as a primary patterning technique, with SEM and laser interferometer stage abilities. This allows scientists to use the state of the art nanofabrication system in unique manners.

Strengths and Limitations of EBL

Electron Beam Lithography or EBL is a technique that scans a focused beam of electrons to form a customized shape on an electron sensitive film. It is a popular technique for nanofabrication systems that offer flexibility, stability and accuracy along with ease of use. A state-of-the-art EBL system allows easy navigation, advanced beam control, true automation and uses industry standard GDSII designs However, EBL is not the technique best suited for patterning topographic samples. While it works well on flat surfaces, the three-dimensional shapes could prove to be complicated for EBL.

Number of steps for e.g. lift-off process is strongly reduced in case of FIB (right) compared to EBL approach (left).

Figure 1. Number of steps for e.g. lift-off process is strongly reduced in case of FIB (right) compared to EBL approach (left).

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