A new focused-ion-beam (FIB) micro(μ)-sampling technique has recently been developed to facilitate transmission electron microscope (TEM) specimen preparation, while allowing chips or wafer samples to remain intact. A deep trench is FIB-milled to dig out a small, wedge-shaped portion of the sample (or a microwedge) from the samples area of interest, leaving a small, brige-shaped portion (or a microbridge) to support the microwedge. A metal needle is then manipulated into position for lifting the microwedge, i.e., the μ-sample. FIB-assisted deposition (AD) is used to bond the needle to the μ-sample. FIB-milling of the microbridge then separates the μ-sample from the chip or wafer. The separated μ-sample is mounted onto a TEM grid and secured using FIB-AD. The μ-sample is then FIB-thinned further, to a strip of about 0.1 μm thick. All of the above steps are accomplished under vacuum in the FIB system. This design permits a reliable and user-friendly environment for TEM specimen preparation, while keeping chips or wafer samples intact. It also permits operators to repeat TEM inspection and FIB-milling so that precise areas of interest may be made available for TEM inspection. Both cross-sectional and plan view TEM μ-sampling are feasible.

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