Be Direct When You Detect!

Fred Ulmer, South East Regional Sales Manager, EDAX/Gatan

Roughly 10 years ago, I was introduced to the exciting world of research using Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM)/Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) principles. Working first as a Gatan field service engineer, then service manager. It was my first crash course in these research principles. It was a lot to take in at the time, but the excitement and enthusiasm shown by a customer when they have their new piece of equipment installed and begin to generate data was such a payoff. It seems like every year that there is a new, exciting technique or technology to apply to user’s research that enables researchers to keep getting better data.

Recently AMETEK purchased Gatan, which allowed for a great partnership between already owned EDAX and newly acquired Gatan. Also, I switched to sales from service at this time, becoming the South East Sales Manager with Gatan, and shortly after, I became the EDAX South East Sales Manager. Again, a lot to take in at the time, but it was rest assuring that EDAX, like Gatan, is at the forefront of TEM/SEM research.

One of the most technological advances I witnessed was the introduction of the K2 & K3 direct detection cameras for TEM from Gatan. This technology has allowed users to achieve data that was previously unheard of. From cryo-techniques to direct detection Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS), these systems have become a game-changer.

Figure 1. Breakthrough K3 result: 2.7 Å structure of the 20S Proteasome with the K3 camera and Elsa cryo-holder on a TF20. Data courtesy of Alexander Myasnikov, Michael Braunfeld, Yifan Cheng, and David Agard.

Unsure of how, or even if direct detection could be used in the SEM world, it was exciting to get word from EDAX that they were releasing a direct detection EBSD analysis system called the Clarity™. This system is the world’s first EBSD detector based on direct detection technology. Current EBSD non-direct detection detectors have some drawbacks that include grain size and film thickness, causing localized blooming and some imaging artifacts in the EBSD patterns. So how does the Clarity overcome these drawbacks? It comes from the inherent design and technology of the detector. The Clarity does not require a phosphor screen or light transfer system. The technology uses a CMOS detector coupled to a silicon sensor. The incident electrons generate several electron-hole pairs within the silicon upon impact, and a bias voltage moves the charge toward the underlying CMOS detector, where it counts each event. This method is so sensitive that it can detect individual electrons. Coupled with zero read noise, the Clarity provides unprecedented performance for EBSD pattern collection. It can successfully detect and analyze patterns comprised of less than 10 electrons per pixel.

Figure 2. High-quality EBSD patterns collected with Clarity from a) silicon, b) olivine, and c) quartz.

Figure 3. Intensity profile across (113) band from the Hikari Super (blue) and Clarity (red) detectors showing improved contrast and sharpness with direct detection.

Direct detection will benefit many research areas like in‐situ microscopy, EBSD, 4D STEM, imaging beam sensitive materials, quantitative measurement of radiation damage, or quantitative electron microscopy. I am excited to see how the new generation of direct detection, like the EDAX Clarity, will continue to revolutionize the field of electron microscopy. Direct detection and electron counting are poised to advance electron microscopy into a new era. Let’s go direct detect!

Figure 4. EDAX Clarity EBSD Analysis System.

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