New Leica Coater Enhances Microscopy.

The Leica ACE 600 coater is an easy-to-operate high vacuum film deposition system designed to deposit thin conductive films for high resolution SEM and TEM microscopy applications. The tool is configured with (1) a sputtering source for metal film, (2) an evaporation source for carbon coating, and (3) glow discharge for surface hydrophilization. An automatic tilting/rotating stage ensures uniform coating over samples with various sizes and geometry. The sample holder mounts up to 25 SEM stubs and can hold a wafer upto 2 inches in diameter.

1. Sputtered Au/Pd film

Au/Pd target is currently available for the sputtering process, which produces very thin and fine-grained metal film for field-emission SEM applications. As showed in the TEM images below, a 5nm Au/Pd film deposited by the Leica ACE 600 is continues and has very fine grains and high coverage, compared to a 5nm Au film by the conventional Denton coater.

5nm Au/Pd (Leica): 91% coverage, Average grain size 3.5nm                        5nm Au film (Denton): 59% coverage, Average grain size 9.0nm


2. Evaporated Carbon film

A carbon thread evaporation produces thin amorphous (grain-less) carbon film for applications where metal films are not preferable such as: TEM microscopy and chemical analysis (EDX) in SEMs. Below are TEM images of 20nm SiN film with and without carbon coating. Bare SiN film suffered image shifting and distortion due to charging.

TEM image of 20nm SiN coated with 3nm Carbon and its FFT                                        TEM image of bare 20nm SiN film and its FFT

3. Glow discharge

Easy and quick glow discharge is also available to make SEM substrates and TEM supporting films hydrophilic. A 10s standard treatment changes a HMDS coated Si substrate from a contact angle of 70 degrees to 6 degrees, as showed in the images below.

HMDS coated Si substrate (contact angle – 70 degrees)                           10 s glow discharge treatment (contact angle – 6 degrees)

The tool is open for general user training now. Please submit a request on LMACS if you are interested to get trained: Leica ACE600 Carbon/Metal coater. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the tool trainer, Shiau-Yin Wu ( or the Characterization Group Manager, Peng Li (