Loughborough Materials Characterisation Centre

Analytical Equipment

Focused Ion Beam (FIB)

A Focussed Ion Beam (FIB) is a microscopy technique in which a beam of gallium ions can be used to destructively remove material through a process known as sputtering. A FIB provides the capability to understand how materials and features within the microstructure are interconnected by producing 3D reconstructions of materials. The tool can also be used to generate high resolution images with superior channelling contrast, in comparison to using an electron beam. LMCC has a combined FIB/FEGSEM (Dualbeam) located within the centre.

The FIB allows site specific removal of material; this capability allows TEM samples which are electron transparent (<150 nm) to be produced. The FIB is also an important tool when characterising materials with a loose surface layer for example oxides, the FIB can be used to produce cross sections through the sample and then carry out subsequent imaging using either electrons or ions.

Materials have traditionally been characterised in one orientation. The FIB allows materials to be viewed in 3D and the advantage of this is that the real shapes and sizes of grains or precipitated phases can be observed. In addition to this the connectivity of features within the microstructure can be observed, which finally allows researchers to fully characterise materials with asymmetrical and inhomogeneous microstructures.

The dualbeam available within LMCC has auxiliary Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) detectors and an Electron Backscatter Diffraction (EBSD) camera.