The semiconductor industry routinely prepares crosssectional SEM specimens using several traditional techniques. Included in these are cleaving, mechanical polishing, wet chemical etching and focused ion beam (FIB) milling. This presentation deals with a new alternate method for preparation of SEM semiconductor specimens based upon a dedicated broad ion beam instrument. Offered initially as an alternative to wet chemical etching, the instrument was designed to etch and coat SEM and metallographic specimens in one vacuum chamber using inert gas (Ar) ion beams. The system has recently undergone further enhancement by introducing iodine Reactive Ion Beam Etching (RIBE) producing much improved etching/cleaning capabilities compared with inert gas ion beam etching. Further results indicate Ar broad ion beam etching can offer a rapid, simple, more affordable alternative (to FIB machines) for precision cross sections and for “slope cutting,” a technique producing large cross-sections within a short time frame. The overall effectiveness of this system for iodine RIBE etching, for precision cross sectioning and “slope cutting” will be shown for a number of traditional and advanced semiconductor devices.

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