Carl Zeiss SMT Ships World’s First ORION™ Helium Ion Microscope to U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology

Carl Zeiss SMT Inc., a leading global provider of electron- and ion-beam imaging and analysis equipment and solutions for nanotechnology applications, today announced that it has successfully shipped its first ORION™ Helium ion microscope to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, MD. The microscope, which has already achieved site acceptance, uses proprietary new technology developed by ALIS Corporation, a Peabody (MA) based start-up company acquired by Carl Zeiss SMT in 2006.

“We are extremely pleased to have achieved this remarkable milestone in history: initiating a new era in microscopy by shipping the world’s first commercial helium ion microscope,” said Dirk Stenkamp, member of the Carl Zeiss SMT executive board. “The fact that this instrument has been shipped to a selected customer before its official market introduction later this year clearly reveals the demand for this breakthrough technology. We are especially pleased that the first ORION™ microscope is destined for the NIST laboratories where research at the limits of physics is carried out on a daily basis.”

The ORION™ microscope is being delivered to the Precision Engineering Division of the NIST Manufacturing Engineering Laboratory and will be installed in the Advanced Measurement Laboratory (AML). The AML, one of the most technically advanced laboratory facilities in the world, features stringent environmental controls to allow researchers to conduct exacting measurements and develop standards for a wide range of fields, such as nanotechnology, nanomanufacturing, semiconductor electronics, and biotechnology.

According to Carl Zeiss SMT, this new breed of microscope is expected to provide images of unrivalled ultra-high resolution surface and material contrast, unachievable with state-of-the-art technologies of today. The ORION™ scanning ion microscope uses a beam of Helium ions, rather than electrons typically used in scanning electron microscopes (SEM), to generate the signals to be measured and imaged. Since Helium ions can be focused into a substantially smaller probe size and reveal a much stronger sample interaction compared to electrons, the ORION™ system can generate higher resolution images with greatly improved material contrast.

Bill Ward, principal inventor of the Helium ion microscope, founder of ALIS Corporation and Chief Technologist at Carl Zeiss SMT Inc., said, “This breakthrough in physics comes just in time. Today’s scientists are facing problems they can’t solve because they can’t see what they need to see. In addition, traditional procedures for sample preparation are slow, tedious and imprecise. Fortunately, the ORION™ microscope addresses these issues and will enable further scientific advancements in a large number of fields, such as semiconductor process control, life science applications and materials analysis.”

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