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For optimal imaging and microanalysis in electron microscopy, it is imperative to have a clean, well-prepared specimen. This is especially true for many modern electron microscopes, which employ high brightness electron sources, such as LaB6 filaments and field emission(FE) guns. Such high brightness systems combine a small electron probe for microanalysis with increased beam current density, giving high resolution specimen imaging as well as enhanced analytical data. However, specimen contamination rates tend to increase as probe size decreases and beam current density increases. This places greater importance on the quality of the specimen and the cleanliness of both the specimen and the specimen holder. The Model 1020 Plasma Cleaner effectively removes hydrocarbon contamination from most materials research specimens and specimen holders.
To effectively analyze TEM specimens, it is essential to prepare specimens without significantly altering their microstructure or composition. Current specimen preparation techniques often introduce amorphous damage, specimen contamination, or both. Contamination may also occur in several other ways, including: inadvertent touching of specimens or specimen holders, backstreaming of oil from an oil diffusion pumped ion milling system, EM column contamination and the application of adhesives and/or solvents in the preparation process. Even when great care is taken to clean the specimen, standard cleaning methods are often not 100% successful.
In contrast, the Model 1020 enables specimens to be cleaned immediately before insertion into the electron microscope. It applies a low-energy, high frequency (HF) plasma that effectively cleans a specimen’s surface without changing its elemental composition or structural characteristics. The Model 1020 readily accepts side-entry specimen holders for all commercial TEM’s, and can accept bulk specimens for cleaning before SEM or surface analysis.