Large Area Characterization Techniques.

Although advanced microscopy techniques are achieving very high spatial resolution (i.e. sub-nm), there has been great demand for fast and reliable nanoscopic analysis of large-area samples. Several characterization tools at the nanoFAB, which are equipped with large-area imaging/mapping capacities for both morphological and compositional analysis, have been successfully commissioned and are ready for general user work.

  1. Large Area High Magnification Imaging on the Helium Ion Microscope (HiM)
    The NPVE system equipped on the tool has a 16 bit scan generator,  and can acquire images up to 32 K x 32 K pixels. This enables acquisition of single large area images while maintaining sub-nm resolution of HiM. Below is a 20 µm x 20 µm HiM image of a Block Copolymer sample with a scan size of 16K by 16K pixels (1.2 nm/pixel). The two inset squares cover regions of 1.2 µm x 1.2 µm.  (Image Courtesy: Dr. Cong Jin, Prof. Jillian Buriak Group, Department of Chemistry, University of Alberta). For details of the work, please see the paper titled ” Preferential Alignment of Incommensurate Block Copolymer Dot Arrays Forming Moiré Superstructures”, ACS Nano, 2017, 11, 3237-3246.

    20 µm x 20 µm HiM image of a Block Copolymer sample with scan size of 16K by 16K pixel (1.2 nm / pixel)

  2. Large Area Elemental Mapping by X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF)
    The Orbis PC Micro-EDXRF Elemental Analyzer provides easy and unattended large area chemical mapping. Maps are scanned by moving the stage. With available spot sizes (from 2 mm down to 30 µm), maps up to 124 mm x 124 mm can be completed within reasonable acquisition time. Below is a 2 cm x 1.5 cm XRF elemental map of a Geological thin section, acquired in a few hours with a 30 µm spot size. (Image Courtesy: Tyler Warchola, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta).

2 cm x 1.5 cm XRF elemental map of a Geological Thin Section sample.


Please contact Peng Li ( – the Characterization Group Manager, if you have any questions regarding the above techniques.