The instrument comprises a gallium ion beam mounted at 52˚ to the path of a conventional tungsten filament scanning electron microscope.
The instrument is equipped with secondary and backscatter electron detectors, STEM detector and an Oxford Instruments INCA energy dispersive X-ray detector.
As well as operating in standard high vacuum mode, the microscope can also operate in low vacuum mode for uncoated imaging of insulating samples and in ESEM mode for volatile-rich materials.
The dual beams allows samples to be machined using the ion beam – permitting 3 dimension imaging of samples with either the ion or electron beams and the appropriate detectors.
The ion beam can also be used to prepare electron transparent sections of specific locations in a sample for transmission electron microscopy. Such tiny and fragile samples are extracted using an Ascend Instruments Xtreme Access sample extraction tool fitted to the instrument.