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SciMed Education

An Introduction to Ion Beam Milling (IBM)

Ion beam milling produces a sample which is thin, smooth, and free of surface debris. The technique is suitable whenever a high-resolution cross-sectional image is desired.

  • Polymerics
  • Ceramics
  • Metals
  • Geological specimens

What are the components of an Ion Beam Mill?

A basic Ion Beam Mill system consists of a vacuum chamber, an ion beam source, an ion gun and a sample stage (or substrate holder). To properly control the ion bombardment of the sample, it is necessary that the ion beam has an unobstructed path to the surface of the sample to be milled. This is achieved by processing the sample in a medium to high vacuum chamber (10-4 to 10-6 Torr).

The ion source produces an ion beam and the ion gun directs the beam towards the sample material, which is mounted on the substrate holder.

More complex systems have advanced features such as multiple ion sources providing a wide operating power range, sample thickness monitoring, sample cooling and automated sample loading.

What to do next?

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