Skip to main content Accessibility help

Teaching an Old Material New Tricks: Easy and Inexpensive Focused Ion Beam (FIB) Sample Protection Using Conductive Polymers

  • Joshua A. Taillon (a1), Valery Ray (a2) and Lourdes G. Salamanca-Riba (a1)


This letter describes an innovative spin-coating system, built from off-the-shelf components, that can easily and inexpensively be integrated into any laboratory environment. Combined with a liquid suspension of conductive polymer, such a “rotary coater” enables simple coating of planar samples to create a physical protective barrier on the sample surface. This barrier aids in charge dissipation during scanning electron microscope and focused ion beam (FIB) imaging and provides wide-scale protection of the sample surface from ion bombardment during FIB imaging and gas-assisted deposition. This polymer layer replaces the localized and time-consuming electron beam deposition step typically performed during transmission electron microscopy lamella preparation. After observation, the coating can be easily removed, if desired. The described spin-coating procedure has minimal cost while providing repeatable positive results, without the need for expensive commercial coating instrumentation.


Corresponding author

* Corresponding author.


Hide All

Current address: Material Measurement Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD 20899, USA.



Hide All
Alias, M.S., Liao, H.-Y., Ng, T.K. & Ooi, B.S. (2015). Charging suppression in focused-ion beam fabrication of visible subwavelength dielectric grating reflector using electron conducting polymer. J Vac Sci Technol B 33, 06F701.
Dylewicz, R., Klauke, N., Cooper, J. & Rahman, F. (2011). Conductive polymers for advanced micro- and nano-fabrication processes. Mater Matt 6, 1821.
Giannuzzi, L.A. & Stevie, F.A. (Eds.) (2005). Introduction to Focused Ion Beams: Instrumentation, Theory, Techniques and Practice. New York, NY: Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.
Goldstein, J.I., Lyman, C., Newbury, D., Lifshin, E., Echlin, P., Sawyer, L., Joy, D.C. & Micheal, J. (2003). Scanning Electron Microscopy and Microanalysis. New York, NY: Springer Science + Business Media, Inc.
Greco, F., Zucca, A., Taccola, S., Menciassi, A., Fujie, T., Haniuda, H., Takeoka, S., Dario, P. & Mattoli, V. (2011). Ultra-thin conductive free-standing PEDOT/PSS nanofilms. Soft Matter 7, 10642.
Janeiro, R., Flores, R., Dahal, P. & Viegas, J. (2016). Fabrication of a phase photon sieve on an optical fiber tip by focused ion beam nanomachining for improved fiber to silicon photonics waveguide light coupling. Opt Express 24, 1161111625.
Joy, D.C. (1989). Control of charging in low-voltage SEM. Scanning 11, 14.
Letheby, H. (1862). XXIX.—On the production of a blue substance by the electrolysis of sulphate of aniline. J Chem Soc 15, 161163.
McCaffrey, J.P., Phaneuf, M.W. & Madsen, L.D. (2001). Surface damage formation during ion-beam thinning of samples for transmission electron microscopy. Ultramicroscopy 87, 97104.
Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation (2004). aquaSAVE Technical Information. Available upon request from Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation and online at (retrieved June 20, 2016).
Moncrieff, D.A., Robinson, V.N.E. & Harris, L.B. (1978). Charge neutralization of insulating surfaces in the SEM by gas ionization. J Phys D Appl Phys 11, 23152325.
Schaffer, M., Schaffer, B. & Ramasse, Q. (2012). Sample preparation for atomic-resolution STEM at low voltages by FIB. Ultramicroscopy 114, 6271.
Shirakawa, H. (2001). The discovery of polyacetylene film—The dawning of an era of conducting polymers (2000 Nobel Prize Lecture). Curr Appl Phys 1, 281286.
Showa Denko (2008). ESPACER Technical Report. Available online at (retrieved November 21, 2016).
Stokes, D.J., Vystavel, T. & Morrissey, F. (2007). Focused ion beam (FIB) milling of electrically insulating specimens using simultaneous primary electron and ion beam irradiation. J Phys D Appl Phys 40, 874877.
Sukanek, P.C. (1991). Dependence of film thickness on speed in spin coating. J Electrochem Soc 138, 1712.
Talbot, C.G. & Trexler, T.M. (1994). Focused ion beam processing with charge control. US Patent 5357116.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Teaching an Old Material New Tricks: Easy and Inexpensive Focused Ion Beam (FIB) Sample Protection Using Conductive Polymers

  • Joshua A. Taillon (a1), Valery Ray (a2) and Lourdes G. Salamanca-Riba (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.