Carl Zeiss's Orion Plus helium ion microscope

Carl Zeiss SMT's Orion Plus is an upgrade to the original Orion helium ion microscope, introduced in August 2007. The Orion instruments use a beam of helium ions -- rather than electrons -- to image and measure. Because helium ions can be focused into a substantially smaller probe size than electrons, Orion can generate higher resolution images with improved contrast at an extended depth of focus.

Carl Zeiss SMT's Orion Plus is an upgrade to the original Orion helium ion microscope, introduced in August 2007. The Orion instruments use a beam of helium ions -- rather than electrons -- to image and measure. Because helium ions can be focused into a substantially smaller probe size and provide smaller sample interaction compared to electrons, the Orion can generate higher resolution images with improved contrast at an extended depth of focus.

Orion Plus promises greater resolution and brightness than the original release. It incorporates several design enhancements for improved imaging:

-- The tip geometry has been modified to increase the accelerating voltage of the helium ions, resulting in improved resolution;

-- A new "Clear View" sample cleaning system combines plasma cleaning, heating elements and an in-situ vapor cleaning technique to remove hydrocarbons from the sample and the environment preventing re-deposition in the area being scanned, which results in increased surface detail;

-- An enhanced signal collection technique called "Signal Boost" increases electron collection at short working distances for improved signal to noise; and

-- An operating mode called "Quiet Mode Imaging" is an approach based on the use of a cryomechanical pump for cooling the source—instead of liquid nitrogen—where users can virtually eliminate vibration for noise-free images. This approach also provides a colder ion source, which yields an increase in brightness.

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