Evaporating an insulator by electron bombardment.

Nicholas Blanchard and the PNEC team members Antoine Niguès, May Choueib, Sorin Perisanu, Anthony Ayari, Philippe Poncharal, Stephen Purcell, Alessandro Siria and Pascal Vincent have published an article entitled "Electron beam assisted field evaporation of insulating nanowires/tubes" in the journal Applied Physics Letters.

Atom probe tomography (APT) is a unique tool for analyzing materials by ionizing atom by atom the sample. This allows the sample under investigation to be chemically reconstructed at the atomic scale. High voltage pulsed APT is well adapted for metallic samples, however semiconducting or insulating samples prove difficult or even impossible to study by this method. In this context, the authors have shown that an insulating material can be ionized positively by bombarding it with electrons. The article demonstrates how insulating materials can be evaporated in a SEM or TEM by using the electron beam to induce the evaporation. The nanometric dimensions of the focused e-beam permits the selective evaporation of closely spaced nano-objects. This work, which has been filed for a patent, should facilitate the study of semiconducting and insulating materials by APT.



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