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FIB prepared Micro-Cross Sectioning and Imaging Service

FIB can precisely locate and section a feature on a sample and directly take images of it.

Agar Scientific and NanoScope Services are partnering to offer unique FIB services in specimen preparation. Focussed Ion Beam or FIB offers many possibilities for preparing sections not possible using more conventional mechanical polishing or sectioning methods. FIB can precisely locate and section a feature on a sample and directly take images of it. Multiple slices can be taken through the same feature.

There are 4 clear advantages

  • It is ECONOMICALEASY and FAST. Preparing a conventional mechanical section through a complex material takes time. FIB is efficient, versatile and cost effective, with samples processed quickly and the images emailed directly to you.
  • EXACT LOCATION and ORIENTATION – a FIB Micro Section may be prepared at a very precise location on the specimen surface. This can be through a specific feature or failure, interface or particle, even a crack or void. The orientation of the section may also be defined. Multiple sections may be taken through the same feature or in very close proximity, with each one being uniquely positioned and orientated as desired.
  • MATERIALS INDEPENDENT – The FIB process is largely independent of materials hardness or structure. Softer materials do not smear, harder materials are polished at similar rates to softer ones, and interfaces are preserved.
  • MINIMAL MECHANICAL PREPARATION is required for FIB processing. If the sample is small enough to be loaded and is clean and vacuum compatible it can be sectioned.

Standard Micro-sections are typically 20 microns wide, and 10 microns deep, giving a vertical section face area of 2002µm for imaging.

FIB service

  • Micro-Sections prepared on your sample, with several FIB SE images emailed directly to you.
  • Standard turnaround from sample receipt is approximately 3 weeks
  • Three images of each Micro-Section are supplied and emailed:
    • A top down image of the identified site prior to sectioning
    • A tiled (45 degree) image of the whole section showing the overview of the site
    • A zoomed in view of the main feature of interest  (at 45 degrees tilt, best effort basis)
    • Each image contains data such as magnification/FOV, imaging mode, tilt angle, kV etc.

Custom sectioning options:

  • Fast turn – images emails less than 2 days from sample receipt 
  • Sacrificial metal top coat (to preserve the exact profile of the top surface) - recommended
  • Wider or deeper sections (either up to 15µm deep and/or wider in 5µm steps)
  • Additional slices (specify step size from 100nm’s to 2microns) - each
  • Additional image(s) - please describe carfeully within your job preparation spec e.g. ‘zoomed in view of 1st layer with thickness measurement’ or ‘3 images at high magnification showing whole section face'
  • Very specific location (position specified to <0.5µm precision in X,Y)
  • in-situ Chemical decoration to enhance section features (various options) each. Beneficial for highlighting specific features or for subsequent SEM investigations
  • Report and description -  a two page report containing job information with the images (with filenames) collected from your sample during preparation and proccessing. Additional information is included describing the FIB process

Further details may be found at or should you have any questions about this process please call NanoScope Services on +44(0) 117 9576225 or email

Before ordering please study the associated documents and complete the customer check list, under the 'delivery and returns' tab, prior to sending your samples.

What is FIB?

Focused ion beam systems (FIB’s) are first cousins to Scanning Electron Microscopes affording high quality and high contrast secondary electron imaging. FIBs use a field emission liquid metal ion source (gallium) instead of electrons. These ions are many times more massive than electrons, and as well as producing high resolution images permit a FIB system to modify the surface of a sample in real time. With careful control this process can be used to machine a vertical trench into the surface of a sample and through  a feature of interest. The trench side wall through the target feature can then be polished giving a high quality imaging surface without introducing any serious preparation artefacts. Once prepared this ‘FIB Micro-Section’ can be tilted up by 45 degrees to be imaged using scanning ion microscopy. Standard sections are ~20 microns wide, 8-10 microns front to back and 8-10 microns deep.

 FIB Sectioning Job Prep Guidelines

With many years of experience and a high level of operator proficiency NanoScope make every effort to get the best sections possible from each sample using state of the art instrumentation. However, FIB preparation is a complex scientific process which relies in part on the machining characteristics, charging profile, mechanical stability, surface morphology, internal stresses and vacuum compatibility of the individual samples. Some variability in the shape and characteristics of the final result may be expected. All sections are produced on a ‘best effort’ basis. We cannot accept any returns for this service.

FIB sectioning service Customer Checklist

Description Code Unit Qty
Micro-Sections prepared on your sample, with FIB SE images AGFIBMS1 EA
Custom options - fast turnaround AGFIBMS2 EA
Custom options - sacrificial metal top coat AGFIBMS3 EA
Custom options - wider or deeper sections AGFIBMS4 EA
Custom options - additional slices AGFIBMS5 EA
Custom options - additional images AGFIBMS9 EA
Custom options - very specific location AGFIBMS6 EA
Custom options - in-situ Chemical decoration AGFIBMS7 EA
Custom options - Report and description AGFIBMS8 EA

FIB prepared Micro Cross Sectioning and Imaging Service

  • FIB prepared Micro Cross Sectioning and Imaging Service
  • FIB prepared Micro Cross Sections