New laser-based sample prep solution

3D-Micromac AG (booth #1645 in the South Hall) this week introduced the microPREP 2.0 laser ablation system for high-volume sample preparation of metals, semiconductors, ceramics and compound materials for microstructure diagnostics and failure analysis (FA).

Built on a highly flexible platform with a small table-top footprint, the microPREP 2.0 allows for easy integration into FA workflows. Developed jointly with Fraunhofer Institute for Microstructure of Materials and Systems (IMWS), the microPREP 2.0 complements existing approaches to sample preparation such as focused ion beam (FIB) micromachining, offering up to 10,000 times higher ablation rates and therefore an order of magnitude lower cost of ownership (CoO) compared to FIB. As the first stand-alone, ultrashort pulsed laser-based tool for sample preparation, the microPREP 2.0 brings additional unique capabilities, such as enabling large-area and 3D-shape sampling to allow for more comprehensive testing of complex structures.

Cutting and preparing samples from semiconductor wafers, dies and packages for microstructure diagnostics and FA is an essential but time-consuming and costly step. The primary method of sample preparation used in semiconductor and electronics manufacturing today is FIB micromachining, which can take several hours to prepare a typical sample. FIB only allows for very small sample sizes, and precious FIB time is wasted by “digging” excavations needed for cross-sectional imaging in a scanning electron microscope or making a TEM lamella. Reaching larger depths or widths is severely restricted by the limited ablation rate.

3D-Micromac’s microPREP 2.0 significantly accelerates these critical steps, bringing sample preparation for semiconductor and materials research to a new level. By off-loading the vast majority of sample prep work from the FIB tool and relegating FIB to final polishing or replacing it completely depending on application, microPREP 2.0 reduces time to final sample to less than one hour in many cases.

“This award-winning tool brings unprecedented flexibility into sample prep. We at Fraunhofer IMWS are facing the need for targeted, artifact-free and most reliable preparation workflows to be able to serve our industry customers with cutting-edge microstructure diagnostics. Made for diverse techniques like SEM inspection of advanced-packaging devices, X-ray microscopy, atom probe tomography, and micro mechanics, microPREP was developed jointly with 3D-Micromac to close gaps in preparation workflows,” said Thomas Höche, Fraunhofer IMWS.

The microPREP 2.0 laser ablation system.

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