Parallel Beam Electron Microscopy, the ZEISS MultiSEM Characterization Paradigm Shift

K. Crosby, A. Eberle, S. Nickell
Carl Zeiss Microscopy,
United States

Keywords: characterization, microscopy, electron microscopy, multi-beam, multi-scale


The materials science paradigm places characterization at the center of the structure, properties, processing and performance tetrahedron due to the intimate relationship each of these variables has on the others. In order to understand when, where, how and why a device functions one must engage in understanding these relationships through a variety of characterization techniques. One fundamental class of characterization is imaging, more specifically microscopy, which aims to utilize enhanced optics to reveal the underlying features that dictate downstream purpose. Whereas light microscopy (LM) technologies have existed for many centuries, significant development of electron microscopy (EM) technologies has only occurred over the last half century due to advancements in digitization and miniaturization. Microscopy characterization has historically suffered from an inverse relationship between workflow throughput and probing resolution, namely due to fundamental physics constraints of such techniques. While LM is capable of analyzing macroscale dimensions in rapid fashion, the limitation of diffraction based optics is a tangible barrier for modern nanoscale applications. Conversely, while EM is capable of resolving features that are orders of magnitude smaller than possible with LM, throughput limitations of conventional instruments impose a severe constraint on the region of interest that is accessible in reasonable timeframes. Attempts to overcome this tradeoff led to the development of a parallel beam electron microscope, which multiplies the illumination and detection mechanisms of a singular instrument in order to increase throughput capability while concurrently maintaining the native resolving power of high perform electron optics. Details of the ZEISS MultiSEM technology will be described through a variety of high impact imaging application examples including Connectomics in neuroscience research, reverse engineering in electronics research, shale rock porosity in energy research, among others. As well, recent upgrades to the technology including additional beams, improved resolution, and automation features will be reviewed.