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Journal Article

Controlling FIB-SBEM slice thickness by monitoring the transmitted ion beam


Boergens,  K. M.
Research Group: Structure of Neocortical Circuits / Helmstaedter, MPI of Neurobiology, Max Planck Society;


Denk,  Winfried
Department of Biomedical Optics, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Max Planck Society;

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Boergens, K. M., & Denk, W. (2013). Controlling FIB-SBEM slice thickness by monitoring the transmitted ion beam. JOURNAL OF MICROSCOPY, 252(3), 258-262. doi:10.1111/jmi.12086.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0014-C25E-5
Serial block-face electron microscopy with focused ion beam cutting suffers from cutting artefacts caused by changes in the relative position of beam and sample, which are, for example, inevitable when reconditioning the ion gun. The latter has to be done periodically, which limits the continuous stack-acquisition time to several days. Here, we describe a method for controlling the ion-beam position that is based on detecting that part of the ion beam that passes the sample (transmitted beam). We find that the transmitted-beam current decreases monotonically as the beam approaches the sample and can be used to determine the relative position of beam and sample to an accuracy of around one nanometre. By controlling the beam approach using this current as the feedback parameter, it is possible to ion-mill consecutive 5 nm slices without detectable variations in thickness even in the presence of substantial temperature fluctuations and to restart the acquisition of a stack seamlessly. In addition, the use of a silicon junction detector instead of the in-column detector is explored.