Author Topic: EPMA Life Hacks  (Read 3267 times)

John Donovan

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EPMA Life Hacks
« on: September 29, 2019, 05:27:03 PM »
This topic is for good ideas, tips, tricks in EPMA science for making your life easier and that don't fit into other existing topics.

Anette von der handt suggested it over the summer and I think it's probably good to have a "catchall" for such information.
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Probeman

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Re: EPMA Life Hacks
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2019, 05:42:39 PM »
I posted this idea for using a tiny drop of isopropyl alcohol to adhere small flat samples to an Si substrate (or Al stub) a while back:



The idea being to allow the alcohol to "wick around" the edge and in dissolving hydrocarbon residues and then evaporating, such small flat samples will stick to a flat surface such as an Si substrate or Al stub without the need for gluing your samples using epoxy.

Previously we found that performing thin film analysis of multiple small cleaved pieces of Si weren't stable using just a 25mm carbon tab on an Al stub. The carbon tabs would move around and some pieces would go out of Bragg focus over time. Some relief can be had by utilizing the "hard" carbon tabs, but even better is the isopropyl "wick around" method.

The samples stay right where they are for the duration of the WDS measurement, and then when you want to re-use the Al stub, a tiny amount of pressure using a small needle is enough to dislodge the small pieces of Si wafer.

Recently I came across a company that could produce nice round pieces of Si wafer in various diameters including 25 mm, that can also be used in place of an Al stub. Here's a pic of a tray of 25 I bought that are cut to 25 mm so they'll fit right into my sample holder:



Then I adhere the small cleaved pieces of Si wafer to the large (25 mm) Si wafer each with a tiny drop of isopropyl (staying away from the edges), add a spacer ring equal to the thickness of the Si pieces, and then I'm automatically top referenced for analysis.

Just FYI.

Oh, I should mention that they cost about $200 for 25 wafers, but since they're totally re-usuable that seems like a good deal.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2019, 05:51:55 PM by Probeman »
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NicholasRitchie

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Re: EPMA Life Hacks
« Reply #2 on: October 01, 2019, 06:39:46 AM »
How about this one?
If you want 1 nA, set your probe current to 0.9950 nA rather than 1.000 nA.  At least on my picoammeter, I get N digits of precision.  When I set the current to slightly more than 1 nA, I end up with one less significant digit than if I set it slightly below 1 nA.
Same goes for 10 nA, 100 nA etc.
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Probeman

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Re: EPMA Life Hacks
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2019, 08:43:39 AM »
How about this one?
If you want 1 nA, set your probe current to 0.9950 nA rather than 1.000 nA.  At least on my picoammeter, I get N digits of precision.  When I set the current to slightly more than 1 nA, I end up with one less significant digit than if I set it slightly below 1 nA.
Same goes for 10 nA, 100 nA etc.

Good idea. If one doesn't have beam current regulation, this would help with monitoring stability.

On a slightly related SEM note, as you know, though others might not, don't believe your picoammeter readings if one is monitoring sample current from the stage and using "low vacuum" imaging mode (in an FEI instrument). The current flow from the water vapor to the stage will vary based on the ionization from different detector settings.  Of course performing quantitative measurements in "low vacuum" mode is fraught with many other issues as well.
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