Some years ago someone called up TK and asked, "Do you want an electron microscope?" Silly question. The answer to that question is always yes. Even if you know nothing about SEM's.

So it sat in the basement for a year or more, until eventually I got motivated and spent about two months refurbishing it, getting a chiller and compressed air hooked up, fixing the bugs (the most serious of which were some fried parts in the ion pump power supply), cleaning it out, and fielding occasional disparaging comments about my "electron microscope kit".

Well, it works! And fairly nicely. I still have a lot to learn about what I'm doing -- but it has nothing to do with computers, which is kind of nice.

The innards of the beast are pretty complicated, but a good thing about having a slightly older machine is that we have the prints and we're not afraid to hack on it. The specimen chamber is very large by normal standards - nearly large enough to bathe in ... Well, if you're a duck, anyway.

The autostage is large enough to hold 8 inch wafers.

The column is maintained at vacuum (about 1.0E-7 torr) pretty much all the time, except when you open it to do maintenance. There are two apertures you can switch between while running.

This is a stereo image made with the SEM of one of the micro lcd displays built by Phil Alvelda and TK. There's also an even larger version of the same pair. The fuzzy object on the right is the end of a scratch mark I used to align the images. The magnification is about 1600 diameters, and the wells (each of which is an LCD pixel) are about 12 microns across. Go ahead! Cross your eyes. They won't get stuck ...

More to come, as we get better at using the thing and have more stuff to look at.