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An Approach to the Reduction of Hydrocarbon Contamination in the Scanning Electron Microscope



Michael T. Postek


The deposition of electron bean-induced specimen contamination in both the transmission (TEM) and scanning electron microscopes (SEM) has remained a problem since the beginning of these forms of microscopy. Generally, sources of SEM contamination can be attributed to one or a combination of three major contributors: ( 1) the pumping system; (2) outgassing of other internal SEM component parts (i.e., specimen stage, stage lubricants, O?rings, etc.), or (3) the sample (including its preparation and handling). Generally, because of the nature of SEM, specimen contamination can be minimized but is difficult to avoid fully. This work outlines three approaches taken with instruments at NIST to reduce the deposition of contamination in high-resolution cold-field emission SEMs. With some modification these techniques could be applied to any SEM. These approaches have been in successful operation for several years, resulting in a reduction in electron beam-induced hydrocarbon contamination.


contamination, hydrocarbon, pump, residual gas analysis, scanning electron microscope, transmission electron microscope, vacuum


Postek, M. (1996), An Approach to the Reduction of Hydrocarbon Contamination in the Scanning Electron Microscope, Scanning (Accessed July 16, 2024)


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Created June 1, 1996, Updated February 19, 2017