The TESCAN XEIA3 is a high specification plasma-FIB and FEG-SEM endowed with a variety of detectors providing the UK with a powerful characterisation tool for active materials.

Due for installation within NNL Central Laboratory early 2020.

  • Partner:National Nuclear Laboratory
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Detailed Description

The NNL PFIB will be a national asset for the characterisation and preparation of active material samples in the UK. It will be the most versatile microscope in NNLs fleet of active electron microscopes. Compared to a Ga+ ion FIB, the PFIB is considerably faster (up to x 50) allowing for higher volume samples to be milled and analysed than previously possible.

The PFIB is fitted with a TOF SIMS system, capable of operating in negative/position modes – allowing for the detection of a wide variety of isotopes – including those of hydrogen. This is a first for any active FIB in the UK.

Detailed X-ray mapping and analysis is possible due the FEG electron source and two large detectors; a Bruker 60 mm2 (1 Sr) FlatQuad optimised for maximum X-ray collection and Bruker 100 mm2 main detector which allows greater flexibility with other imaging modes. Additionally, electron backscatter diffraction capability allows grain orientation mapping using a Bruker EBSD (with TKD) detector.

By combining the above techniques with the milling aspect of the P-FIB allows for unprecedented site-specific analysis and sample preparation. The acquisition of 3D datasets is greatly enhanced by the rapid milling capability. Examples of use could include: preparation of TEM lamella for radiation induced segregation analysis at grain boundaries, mapping of grains using EBSD, preparation of APT needles characterisation of zirconium oxides using SEM and many more.


  • Detailed microstructural investigations into active materials, including EDX and EBSD mapping.
  • Destructive 3D tomography
  • TOF-SIMS isotopic analysis
  • Preparation of TEM samples for export to Universities and/or NNL’s TEMs
  • Preparation of APT needles for export to Universities


  • 0.7 nm resolution @ 15 keV (electron imaging)
  • Beam deceleration
  • In beam, SE, BSE, low-energy BSE detectors
  • Retractable BSE and STEM detectors
  • Ion imaging (1 pA to 1 µA Xe ion current) < 15 nm resolution

Focused Ion Beam

  • Xe-plasma ion source
  • Rocking stage
  • OmniProbe OP400
  • 5-line GIS system: Pt, C, XeF2, O2-bleed, H2O etch enhance

Spectroscopy and Isotopic Analysis

  • Bruker 100 mm2 EDX detector
  • Bruker FlatQUAD 60mm2 EDX detector
  • Bruker EBSD with TKD
  • TOF SIMS < 1.5 ppm detection limit, < 60 nm lateral resolution, 3 nm depth

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