A New Ion Source

zeroK NanoTech's proprietary Low Temperature Ion Source (LoTIS) technology will set a new standard for performance in focused ion beams (FIB). The key idea is that the performance of modern FIBs is principally determined by the properties of the ion source. By building a better ion source, zeroK can improve the performance of FIB across a wide variety of tasks. LoTIS builds on technology developed at the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at NIST.

LoTIS Capabilities

The next generation of FIB tasks are going to need a better-performing ion source. zeroK's' LoTIS will meet these needs by providing:

  • Spot sizes under 1 nm at 30 keV beam energy
  • Beam currents over 5 nA
  • Reduced invasiveness and subsurface sample damage
  • Integrated FIB-SIMS option

Demo Platform

zeroK completed construction of an alpha-level implementation of a Cs+ LoTIS in the fall of 2016. This instrument is now online and proves LoTIS technology works. For the full details, see our publication. The latest news about this instrument can be found on the news page.

The LoTIS was retrofit onto a gallium LMIS-based FIB platform. The upgraded system can deliver 2 nm spot-sizes at a beam energy 10 kV. Prior to the upgrade the system only was able to provide 5 nm spots at 40 kV. Beam currents over 3 nA can also be provided for larger volume milling operations.

The system also offers a full range of gas chemistries including bromine, xenon difluoride, oxygen and TMCS for etch enhancement. Tungsten is available for deposition.

Demo Platform Capabilities

  • Spot size of 2 nm
  • Beam energies up to 10 keV
  • Currents up to 3 nA
  • Gas chemistries for etch or deposition
  • Patterning engine of the base Vectra FIB platform

Colder Atoms

Employing Nobel-prize winning techniques from the field of laser cooling, the LoTIS creates a cold beam of atoms, just a few millionths of a degree above absolute zero! This beam of atoms is then photoionized in an electric field to create an extremely cold ion beam. By removing the heat, and thereby the randomness, from its ions, FIBs employing a LoTIS will be able to more sharply focus their ion beams. To learn more about how lasers can be used to make things colder, visit this interactive tutorial

Brighter Ions

In slightly more technical terms, the LoTIS will have a higher brightness brighter and have a smaller energy spread than the industry standard technology, the liquid metal ion source (LMIS). Higher brightness enables more current in a smaller focused spot, while reduced energy spread mitigates chromatic aberrations. The result is a source of ions for FIB applications that provides high-precision operation over a wide range of beam energies. zeroK has developed a LoTIS that produces cesium ions which would allow for an integrated elemental mapping tool (using Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry) in combination with nanomachining capabilities. Updates in the development of LoTIS technology can be followed on the News page.