MRS Bulletin

Technical Feature

Technical Feature

Focused Ion Beam Microscopy and Micromachining

C. A. Volkert and A. M. Minor


The fairly recent availability of commercial focused ion beam (FIB) microscopes has led to rapid development of their applications for materials science. FIB instruments have both imaging and micromachining capabilities at the nanometer–micrometer scale; thus, a broad range of fundamental studies and technological applications have been enhanced or made possible with FIB technology. This introductory article covers the basic FIB instrument and the fundamentals of ion–solid interactions that lead to the many unique FIB capabilities as well as some of the unwanted artifacts associated with FIB instruments. The four topical articles following this introduction give overviews of specific applications of the FIB in materials science, focusing on its particular strengths as a tool for characterization and transmission electron microscopy sample preparation, as well as its potential for ion beam fabrication and prototyping.

Cynthia A. Volkert, Guest Editor for this issue of MRS Bulletin, is a research scientist and group leader at Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe in Germany, where she specializes in microstructure and mechanical properties studies of small metal structures. She received a bachelor's degree in physics from McGill University and her PhD degree from Harvard University. Volkert then spent 10 years working as a staff scientist at Bell Laboratories before moving to Germany, first to the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart and then to Karlsruhe.

Volkert can be reached at Institut für Materialforschung II, Forschungszentrum Karlsruhe, Postfach 36 40 76021, Karlsruhe, Germany; tel. 49-7247-82-3577, fax 49-4247-82-2347, and e-mail

Andrew M. Minor, Guest Editor for this issue of MRS Bulletin, is a staff scientist and principal investigator at the National Center for Electron Microscopy at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California. He received a bachelor's degree in economics and mechanical engineering from Yale University and MS and PhD degrees in materials science and engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. His research group focuses on the mechanical properties of small volumes, in situ TEM technique development, and sample manipulation and preparation methods for electron microscopy investigations of both hard and soft materials.

Minor can be reached at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 1 Cyclotron Rd., MS 72, Berkeley, CA 94720 USA; tel. 510-495-2749, fax 510-486-5888, and e-mail