Department of Materials

Undergraduate study

Loughborough Materials Characterisation Centre (LMCC)

Dual Beam FIB

FEI Nova 600 Nanolab Dual Beam, focused ion beam(FIB) and scanning electron microscope(SEM)

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.

Ancillary equipment:

  • EDAX PEGASUS, Energy-dispersive X-ray microanalysis (EDX) System.
  • Ultra high speed Hikari, Electron backscattering diffraction (EBSD) camera.
  • RAITH ELPHY QUANTUM lithography package providing advanced nano-patterning/machining capabilities. The system is configured for use with both the electron and ion beams.
  • High speed electrostatic beam blanker.
  • OMNIPROBE micromanipulator.
  • 3 Gas Injectors (Platinum, Insulator enhance etch (IEE) and Selective carbon etch (SCE)).
  • Solid state retractable backscatter detector with low voltage capability.
  • STEM detector with BF and DF modes.


  • Resolution @ optimum WD 1.1 nm @ 15 kV (TLD-SE) 2.5 nm @ 1 kV (TLD-SE) 3.5 nm @ 500V TLD-SE 5.5 nm @ 500 V TLD-BSE