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Xidex to Make CNT Emitters for Electron Microscopes

Photonics.com
Dec 2007
Xidex Corp., an Austin, Texas-based nanotechnology company, today announced it has been awarded a new contract from the Department of Energy (DoE) to manufacture carbon nanotube (CNT) field emitters on metal substrates that can be integrated into scanning electron microscope (SEM) and transmission electron microscope (TEM) guns, and to demonstrate scaleable production processes for making the emitters. Under a Phase I grant the company developed optimal CNT emitter designs, demonstrated the feasibility of fabrication processes for manufacturing the emitters, and demonstrated achievement of key figures-of-merit for the proposed emitters. The goal of Phase II, which has received a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) award of $750,000 from the DoE, is to significantly improve the imaging resolution, signal-to-noise ratio, and processing speed of SEMs and TEMs used in materials science, biotechnology, forensics, medical research, and the semiconductor and nanotechnology industries. The technology also may enable development of new multibeam array tools needed for e-beam lithography, and could extend to miniaturization of e-beam columns. "CNT emitters directly address a long-standing problem in the field of electron microscopy. Electron optical columns have improved significantly in the last 15 years, but the field emission source itself has basically not changed. Our carbon-nanotube-based source represents a new possibility for a breakthrough. This project will have a huge impact on all areas of electron microscopy," said Xidex President and CEO Paul McClure. Xidex is collaborating on the project with professors at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and with SEM equipment seller Scanservice Corp. of Tustin, Calif., which will test Xidex's emitters in a commercial SEM.



GLOSSARY
emitter
A source of radiation.
nanotechnology
The use of atoms, molecules and molecular-scale structures to enhance existing technology and develop new materials and devices. The goal of this technology is to manipulate atomic and molecular particles to create devices that are thousands of times smaller and faster than those of the current microtechnologies.
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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