Novel method for the plan-view TEM preparation of thin samples on brittle substrates by mechanical and ion beam thinning

G. Sáfrán, T. Grenet

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Citations (Scopus)


A new preparation method has been developed in order to avoid the breaking of brittle samples for plan-view TEM investigation during and after mechanical and ion beam thinning. The thinning procedure is carried out on a reduced size piece of the sample (about 1.6 × 0.8 mm2 or about 1-1.6 mm diameter) that is embedded into a 3-mm-diameter Ti disk, which fits the sample holder of the TEM. The small sample size and the supporting metal disk assure the mechanical stability and minimize the possibility of breaking during and after the preparation: The Ti disk is placed on adhesive kapton tape, a cut piece of the sample is put into the slot of the disk, pressed onto the tape and embedded with glue. The tape keeps the parts in place and in the same plane, keeps the sample surface safe from the embedding glue and can be removed easily after the glue solidifies. Subsequently, the embedded sample is thinned from the rear by well-known mechanical and ion beam techniques until electron transparency. This simple solution lowers the risk of failed sample preparation remarkably and makes it possible to reduce the thickness of the sample to about 50 μm by mechanical thinning. As a result, dimpling becomes unnecessary and low angle ion milling gives a large transparent area for TEM. Its efficiency has been proved by successful preparation of numerous thin film samples on Si, sapphire, and glass substrates. The method is compatible with the widespread cross-sectional thinning procedures, and can be easily adopted by TEM laboratories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)308-314
Number of pages7
JournalMicroscopy Research and Technique
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 15 2002


  • Brittle substrates
  • Low risk of brake
  • Plan-view thinning
  • TEM sample preparation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Histology
  • Instrumentation
  • Medical Laboratory Technology

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