Teaching an Old Material New Tricks: Easy and Inexpensive Focused Ion Beam (FIB) Sample Protection Using Conductive Polymers


This letter describes an innovative spin-coating system, built from off-the-shelf components, that can easily and inexpensively be integrated into any laboratory environment. Combined with a liquid suspension of conductive polymer, such a “rotary coater” enables simple coating of planar samples to create a physical protective barrier on the sample surface. This barrier aids in charge dissipation during scanning electron microscope and focused ion beam (FIB) imaging and provides wide-scale protection of the sample surface from ion bombardment during FIB imaging and gas-assisted deposition. This polymer layer replaces the localized and time-consuming electron beam deposition step typically performed during transmission electron microscopy lamella preparation. After observation, the coating can be easily removed, if desired. The described spin-coating procedure has minimal cost while providing repeatable positive results, without the need for expensive commercial coating instrumentation.

Microscopy and Microanalysis