microPREP – Sample Preparation for FIB Workflow improvement

The microPREP™ PRO system by 3D Micromac was developed to provide efficient laser sample preparation fitted to the needs of microstructure diagnostics and failure diagnostics. The traditional FIB workflow for preparing samples realizes tremendous speed improvements and lower FIB tool wear and tear by completing a roughing step prior to final FIB processing.  Therefore, with microPREP™ PRO material samples can be prepared effectively and economically by using an ultra-short pulse laser.

microPREP™ PRO allows to create complex and 3D-shaped samples to enable more comprehensive analysis of certain structures like in advanced packages, such as through silicon vias (TSVs), or even complete systems-in-package (SiP).

Furthermore, it is ideal to provide larger-sized samples with micron-level precision. The integrated overview camera assists in navigating on larger samples – the high-definition process camera allows for exact positioning.

Moreover, the application of a pico-second laser ensures virtually no structural damage and no elemental contamination of the material. In addition, microPREP™ PRO’s novel approach features substantially higher ablation rates in comparison to purely ion-beam-based processes.

The modular software design of microPREP™ ensures high flexibility for machining of samples for a broad range of microstructure diagnostics techniques. Based on machine-provided and customer-designed parameter-setups (recipes) microPREP™ PRO provides the best technology for sample preparation for:

  • Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM),
  • Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM),
  • X-ray Microscopy (XRM),
  • Atom-Probe Tomography (APT)
  • Micromechanics

Through ongoing development more and more areas of application are appearing on the market, in which microPREP™ PRO is able to assist in processing sample preparation for material analysis. Apart from mere preparation, samples can also be laser marked for easy tracking by microPREP™ PRO.

microPREP Pro for Laser Sample Prep FIB APT XRM

Features and Highlights

microPREP™ Features and Highlights:

  • Free-form or box milling and line cut for quick access to the area of interest
  • Loading any kind of geometry into the system
  • Preparing cylindrical samples for XRM and Synchrotron applications with the rotation tool
  • Multiple samples in one run enable more throughput
  • Motorized stages to find the area of interest as fast as possible
  • Recipe-driven Software for fast and easy sample preparation
  • Navigating with the overview camera to the area of interest
  • Cleaning samples during or after the process to have samples ready for the next step
  • Upgradeable for coming options

By using ultra-short pulse laser microPREP™ PRO is  best suited for sample preparation. Key benefits of micro-machining with ultra-short pulsed lasers are particularly low structural damage, high power densities, and targeted precision on the micron scale. Thus, microPREP™ PRO is perfect for laser cutting and local laser thinning in metals, semiconductors, ceramics, as well as compounds and polymers.

microPREP™ PRO enables high-volume sample preparation for microstructure diagnostics and failure analysis.  Furthermore, the integrated CO2 Snow Jet and the additional overview camera helps you to reduce your time to sample even more.

Suitable Applications include:

  • Laser cutting and individual sample preparation
  • SEM- and micro-analysis
  • Sample preparation for micro mechanical testing
  • In-plane and cross section for TEM
    • based on microPREP XL-Chunk stage
  • X-Ray Microscopy sample preparation
  • Pre-shaped APT samples
microPREP rotate stage XRM APT sample prep

Rotate Stage for XRM / APT  Sample Prep

microPREP Snowjet cleaning

SnowJet CO2 Debris Cleaning

Applications and Workflow Examples

TEM Cross Sections – XL Chunk

In order to achieve TEM inspection of cross-sections, microPREP™ enables “pushbutton” sample preparation of site-specific XL-Chunks™ by excavating and undercutting a well-defined volume from an arbitrary but flat sample surface. To further reduce FIB preparation time, XL-Chunks™ can be laser-thinned automatically to a few micron thickness at a region of interest according to the application needs, while providing an order of magnitude time and cost savings compared to traditional sample preparation methods.
microPREP TEM Cross Section process
microPREP TEM Cross Section sample preparation

TEM In-Plane and Bulk Samples – Cutting and Thinning

For investigation of bulk samples by transmission electron microscopy (TEM), the microPREP™ system offers a unique three-stage approach. This includes laser-cutting of a monolithic basic structure from a feed-stock followed by subsequent laser-thinning to a few micron thickness and final thinning to electron transparency using either broad ion beam milling (BIB) or a focused ion beam (FIB) milling while offering up to 10,000 times higher ablation rates and an order of magnitude lower cost of ownership compared to traditional FIB workflows.
microPREP TEM bulk sample cutting and thinning process

XRM – 3D X-Ray Microscopy Sample Preparation

For non-destructive 3D characterization using high resolution X-ray microscopy (XRM or X-CT), samples of rotational symmetry with around 10 micron diameter are desirable. While conventional FIB milling would take days or weeks to prepare suitable samples, laser sample preparation of the same geometry using the microPREP™ system takes less than 5 minutes.
microPREP XRM X-ray Microscopy sample preparation process

APT Atom Probe Tomography sample preparation

In order to improve sample preparation for atom probe tomography (APT), the microPREP™ system enables side-specific cutting of dedicated APT sample geometries and subsequent sharpening of tips to less than 15 μm diameter. Thus, microPREP™ not only helps to reduce required FIB milling, but also improves yield and throughput for APT measurements.
microPREP APT Atom Probe Tomography sample preparation process