Transforming Standard TEM or SEM with the Fusion TEM Heating System

Fusion heating and electrical systems convert a standard SEM or TEM into an in situ laboratory. The new product from Protochips integrates electrical, heating, and electrothermal analysis and uses advanced holder and E-chip technology that provide ultra-high accuracy and stability. Using Fusion, customers can view samples at atomic resolution under real-world conditions and create more results in less time.

The Fusion Advantage

Heating performance – Fusion integrates a new low-power E-chip technology with holders built with special alloys to dissipate heat, resulting in minimum displacement and drift during heating. Fusion’s proprietary ceramic heating technology combines the sample support and the heater into a single thin film with temperature uniformity that surpasses 99.5%.

Electrical performance - The primary challenge that electrical experiments face in the SEM or TEM is the very low current required to describe nanoscale samples. Fusion offers single digit picoamp measurements with sensitivity measuring in the attoamps. With more than 30 different low-parasitic electrical E-chip variations, there is a sample support for all applications.

Simultaneous heating and electrical biasing - Fusion Electrothermal E-chips have a silicon carbide heater with tungsten electrodes that allows researchers to conduct electrical/heating biasing experiments at high temperatures. The complete features and specifications of the Fusion heating and electrical modes are integrated with a single software interface that is easy to use.

Clarity software control – This powerful and intuitive software helps users to control their experiments. It allows users to program electrical and/or thermal stimuli as waveforms or change parameters when required, observe data in real time using a visual user interface that plots the results. It enables use of optional ImageSync software to synchronize images with the electrical and heating data.

The Fusion Key Features


Holders - SEM and EM (single-tilt and double-tilt) holders available for all major manufacturers

E-chips - Interchangeable E-chips to provide electrical, heating, and electrothermal capabilities using a single holder

EDS - Optimized to maximize EDS performance, even at zero alpha tilt

Fusion TEM -Heating and Electrical Holder - Case Study

Electric-field assisted sintering of ZrO2

Sintering is the process of forming a solid mass of material without having to melt the material. It frequently leaves pores and voids, which leads to the material’s strength being compromised. Sintering by only temperature occurs at high temperatures (~80% of the melting point), and can take several hours.

In addition to temperature, electrical current is frequently used as well to reduce the required temperature and decrease the length of the sintering process. However, the role of this current is still largely unknown at the nanoscale.

Until recently no solution was commercially available that could heat and apply current to a sample within the electron microscope. Researchers in the van Benthem group at University of California Davis explored sintering mechanisms in yttria-stabilized ZrO2 (3YSZ), using STEM and TEM images to monitor the microstructural evolution of the agglomerates in densification.

The structure remained unaffected for 106 minutes when they used Protochips’ Fusion to apply 900 °C to the sample. They then increased the temperature to 1200 °C, which caused the pores to shrink.

To see the effect of electrical current, the researchers applied a temperature of 900 °C and a field of 500 V/cm. After only four minutes, pore shrinkage and coalescence was observed, validating the field-assisted sintering.

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