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Focused Ion Beam Processing (FIB)

During the last decade, focused ion beam (FIB) technology has attracted considerable attention as a rapid prototyping tool due to the direct-write character which allows the flexible fabrication of complex structures with 3D character even on non-flat surfaces. However, in combination with low melting materials, such as polymers or biological samples, chemical and morphological instabilities usually occur during FIB processing giving this combination the reputation of being incompatible.
Our scientific activities in this respective field led to recognition of a technically induced effect by means of classical patterning strategies. In the following we worked on a fundamental understanding of spatial temperature evolution which finally led to an alternative process strategy. The result are massively reduced local temperatures which minimize chemical degradation and maximize morphological stability at same process times. By that we could demonstrate that FIB’s are not incompatible to soft matter but requires adapted process strategies.

At FELMI-ZFE, the DBM instrumentation is mostly used as a highly flexible nano-laboratory due its manifold possibilities mentioned before. Additionally, we have a strong focus on soft matter processing, were we used advanced patterning protocols [[15],[16],[17]] and / or low-temperature samples stages. Finally, we have a Kleindiek system, equipped with (1) standard needles, (2) rotation needles, (3) grabbers, (4) a custom gas injection system for controlled gas application / exposure, and (5) an in situ Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) for advanced surface characterization. Consequently, our FIB systems provide multi-functional processing possibilities for research and development activities.