Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A) today announced the introduction of the Agilent 8500 field emission scanning electron microscope (FE-SEM). The 8500 is a compact system that offers researchers a field emission scanning electron microscope for low-voltage, high-performance imaging in their own laboratory.

The innovative 8500 has been optimized for low-voltage imaging, extremely high surface contrast, and resolution typically found only in much larger and more expensive field emission microscopes. The Agilent 8500 FE-SEM is about the size of a laser printer and provides convenient plug-and-play performance. No dedicated facilities are required, only an AC power outlet. The unique scientific-grade system offers several imaging techniques for enhancing surface contrast. The 8500 allows nanoscale features to be observed on a wide variety of nanostructured materials, including polymers, thin films, biomaterials and other energy-sensitive samples on any substrate, even glass.

"The new 8500 gives researchers in ordinary labs an extensive set of powerful capabilities previously available only with conventional, centralized FE-SEMs.," said Jeff Jones, operations manager for Agilent's nanoinstrumentation facility in Chandler, Ariz. "This high-precision, state-of-the-art solution is a reflection of Agilent's strong commitment to the nanomeasurement market."

The 8500 FE-SEM eliminates charging of nonconductive samples without the need to 1) coat the samples, which can mask nanoscale features; or 2) resort to increased pressure operation, which can degrade resolution. Continuously variable imaging voltage is tunable from 500 to 2000 volts as an operational parameter rather than a setup choice. Furthermore, the system uses a four-segment microchannel plate (MCP) detector that provides topographic imaging along two orthogonal directions to enhance surface detail. This technique has been demonstrated to clearly resolve sub-nanometer atomic steps on the surface of crystalline substances, such as polytype 6H-SiC.

Silicon-based microfabrication techniques enable Agilent to design and fabricate a miniature electrostatic electron beam column combined with a field emission electron source for the 8500. The Schottky field emission electron source provides high-brightness and consistent, long-lasting performance. The system's secondary and backscatter electron detection capabilities provide a rich data set for each sample.

The electrostatic lens design of the 8500 delivers repeatable performance without the constant retuning necessitated by the hysteresis in magnetic lenses found in conventional SEMs. The XYZ programmable stage allows researchers to store and return to any operating setup immediately, making the 8500 an ideal choice for multiple-user environments.

About FE-SEM Instrumentation

Agilent Technologies offers high-precision, low-cost of ownership, compact FE-SEM solutions for research, industry, and education. Exceptional worldwide support is provided by experienced application scientists and technical service personnel. Agilent's leading-edge R&D laboratories ensure the timely introduction and optimization of innovative and easy-to-use technologies