FEI's Phenom Bridges the Gap between Optical and Scanning Electron Microscopy

FEI has released its new Phenom™ microscope, an innovative system that bridges the critical price and performance gap between optical and scanning electron microscope (SEM) technologies. Operated easily via its highly intuitive and interactive touch screen, the Phenom can be used in almost any location and does not require specialized facilities or highly skilled operators.

Capable of yielding magnification up to 20,000x, or 20 times higher than most advanced optical scopes, the Phenom addresses a wide variety of industrial and academic applications including quality assurance, product development, research and teaching. Because of its simplicity, compact design and comparable price to high-end optical systems, the Phenom is expected to bring high-resolution imaging to a much broader base of users and accelerate scientific discovery and new product development. It has already received several prestigious accolades including the Red Dot Design award in Germany, a 2006 Mechatronica Design Award in the Netherlands, and a Recognition of Excellence in Innovation from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“The Phenom represents a technology jump similar to that of moving from CDs to MP3s. This is FEI’s iPod™--it’s beautiful to look at and has a simple, intuitive interface. Its ease of use makes it extremely inviting, even to those who have never before operated a microscope,” said Dr. Steven Berger, vice president of the Phenom development group for FEI. “This new microscope makes high-resolution electron microscopy imaging practical and affordable, providing cost effective solutions for a wide range of imaging challenges that can no longer be solved with optical technologies.”

Beyond picking up where optical microscopes are losing resolution power, the Phenom’s potential market will also include organizations that need SEM technology but cannot afford the typical investment of more than US $200,000 for a traditional SEM system plus the costs of additional personnel, and facilities.

The Phenom is also the ideal tool for educating the next generation of nano-focused researchers and scientists. At approximately one-third the price of a traditional SEM, the Phenom will be affordable for many more undergraduate and community college programs, mainstreaming access to the nanoscale. Its ease of use and portability between classrooms will make teaching more exciting and inspire students to learn more about the science and theory behind the images. The Phenom can even play an important role in middle and high school science programs of the future.

The Phenom is now available for purchase in Europe and North America. Sales to the rest of the world will be rolled out in 2008.

The Phenom also represents a new low-cost platform for future products from FEI.

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