Ion Microscopy

  • Gregor HlawacekEmail author
Part of the Springer Handbooks book series (SHB)


Helium ion microscopy () is a relatively young imaging and nanofabrication technique, which is based on a gas field ion source (). It rasters a narrow beam of helium ions across the surface of the specimen, to obtain high-resolution surface-sensitive images. Usually, secondary particles such as electrons are collected for image formation but also photons, backscattered atoms or sputtered sample atoms can be used for image formation. Thanks to the very high brightness of the source, a lateral resolution of \({\mathrm{0.5}}\,{\mathrm{nm}}\) can be achieved. The method is in particular suitable for obtaining high-resolution images of insulating samples (such as ceramic materials and biological samples) as the built-in charge compensation allows us to observe such specimens without any additional conductive coatings. In this chapter, I will introduce the method and briefly sketch the underlying physics. In the remainder of the chapter, a number of imaging modes will be discussed and selected examples will be presented. Finally, an outlook is presented on the ongoing efforts to add analytical capabilities to the method.



This work is based on the input and hard work of many other people, in particular Vasilisa Veligura (University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands) and Nico Klingner (Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Dresden, Germany) who worked on IL and TOF, respectively; but also Raoul van Gastel and Bene Poelsema—from the University of Twente in Enschede, the Netherlands—who brought me into the field of HIM. Further, I want acknowledge help from my colleagues Rene Heller, Lothar Bischoff and Stefan Facsko.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Ion Beam Physics & Materials ResearchHelmholtz Zentrum Dresden RossendorfDresdenGermany

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