Alis (Peabody, Mass.) claims to have made a new and major breakthrough in electron microscopy, which is said to have seen little or no advancements since the 1960s. With current scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) in the marketplace, sample preparation procedures are slow, tedious and imprecise, according to Alis.
"Our disruptive technology enables an entirely new generation of high resolution imaging and measurement systems," said Bill Ward, president of Alis.
"Our scanning ion microscope uses a beam of helium ions as the imaging particles," he said. "Since ions can be focused into a smaller probe size and have less sample interaction, we can generate higher resolution images with more material contrast. We expect to be able to see things much smaller than we've ever been able to see with even the most sophisticated scanning electron microscope (SEM). Magnification over one million times is expected."
Scanning helium ion microscope technology has been under development for over ten years, but Alis claims it has finally devised a commercial product.
Initially, the company will focus on microscopy and failure analysis applications for the semiconductor industry. Future systems are expected to address applications like critical dimension measurement, defect review and defect inspection.
The company is developing a user interface that is much like that of an electron microscope, "which means that it will be easy to operate the system," according to Alis. "Also, this microscope technology promises to have nearly the same resolution as the transmission electron microscope (TEM) without the tedious sample preparation that is now needed."
Alis is said to have obtained one round of funding for a total of $3.5 million. Investors include Arch Venture Partners and Kodiak Venture Partners.
The startup consists of employees who were formerly with Micrion Corp. prior to its acquisition by FEI Co.