Backscattered Helium Spectroscopy in the Helium Ion Microscope: Principles, Resolution and Applications

Raoul van Gastel, G. Hlawacek, S. Dutta, Bene Poelsema

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


We demonstrate the possibilities and limitations for microstructure characterization using backscattered particles from a sharply focused helium ion beam. The interaction of helium ions with matter enables the imaging, spectroscopic characterization, as well as the nanometer scale modification of samples. The contrast that is seen in helium ion microscopy (HIM) images differs from that in scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and is generally a result of the higher surface sensitivity of the method. It allows, for instance, a much better visualization of low-Z materials as a result of the small secondary electron escape depth. However, the same differences in beam interaction that give HIM an edge over other imaging techniques, also impose limitations for spectroscopic applications using backscattered particles. Here we quantify those limitations and discuss opportunities to further improve the technique.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-49
Number of pages6
JournalNuclear instruments and methods in physics research. Section B : Beam interactions with materials and atoms
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • METIS-310914
  • IR-96674


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