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Device for Forward Scattered Electron Imaging (FSEI) in a Scanning Electron Microscope


FSEI, FSEI holder

Technical Challenge:

Integrated circuit features sizes continue to decrease with each new technology node. Industry is now producing 90 nanometer devices and 40 nanometer prototypes are being researched. These very small features are difficult to measure, even with electron microscopes. There is a need for new techniques to measure these small devices.


The invention is a small (~1 inch) device that can be added to a scanning electron microscope to greatly improve image resolution. The device is basically just a sample holder. A computer chip or other sample is mounted to the device, which is then inserted into the scanning electron microscope like any other sample holder. The scanning electron microscope is not modified in any way. The device uses a revolutionary new method of electron imaging to produce superior quality images. The invention has been shown to produce greatly improved images and measurements on the smallest features of integrated circuits and nanotechnology devices such as carbon nanotubes, molecular transistors, and break-junctions. It is likely that the device will also be very useful for bio-medical applications such as imaging virus particles and cell structures.

Demonstration Capability:

The invention has been demonstrated using computer chips and nanotechnology devices.

Potential Commercial Application(s):

The invention is needed to make manufacturing measurements on the next generation of computer chips. It has also been shown to be very useful for measuring a variety of nanotechnology devices now being researched by industry. There are likely other applications in biology and materials science that are not yet explored.

Patent Status:

Issued - United States Patent Number 7,005,652

Reference Number: 1332

If you are interested in exploring this technology further, please express your interest in writing to the:

National Security Agency
NSA Technology Transfer Program
9800 Savage Road, Suite 6541
Fort George G. Meade, Maryland 20755-6541


Date Posted: Jan 15, 2009 | Last Modified: Jan 15, 2009 | Last Reviewed: Jan 15 2009