Xidex to Make CNT Emitters for Electron Microscopes
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.