SEM oud

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Revision as of 07:09, 15 October 2019 by Gert Kremer (talk | contribs)
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Project SEM
SEM imagining.jpg
Getting SEMsational images of chips, materials, and more!
Status Initializing
Contact User:Shiz, User:Peterbjornx, User:PeterC
Last Update 2019-10-15


With the recent improvements to RevSpace's chip analysis infrastructure, we want to take it to the next level and acquire and maintain an actual scanning electron microscope (SEM)! We've found a good candidate and are pending contact with the seller to get confirmation of all the details.


  • We can image chips with ridiculous clarity
  • We can image anything with ridiculous clarity, who needs normal microscopes
  • It's a super cool device!
  • It'd be the first public usage device of its kind in the Netherlands, and a good opportunity to get people to participate in RevSpace to do any projects requiring it, see #Use_cases!


  • Initial funding (see #Funding)
  • Initial RevSpace resources (space, people willing to set it up)
  • Ongoing maintenance (cleaning, occasional Tungsten fillament replacement if heavily used)
  • Ongoing RevSpace resources (electricity, maintenance)


We are currently looking at a candidate from a seller in a nearby country. It has the following properties:

  • Precision: 4.5 nm
  • Magnification: up to 300,000x
  • Accelerating voltage: up to 30 kV
  • Probe current: 1 pA - 1μA
  • Pump type: turbo
  • Built: early 90's
  • Power (peak): 2300W

Additionally, it has the following benefits that certainly sweeten the deal:

  • Support for energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX)
  • Support for digital imagining
  • Confirmed working
  • Very extensive manual available


Name Amount Paid
Shiz €2000 no
pbx €1000 no
PeterC €x no

The estimated total costs as of right now are €7000. A bit over €6000 for the microscope itself, and the remainder for getting it to RevSpace and up and operational. We are looking into minimizing these costs, among others by haggling and finding cheaper options for transport.

All contributions matter, no matter how big or small!

Use cases!

  • Chip reverse engineering
  • Chip failure analysis
  • Metallurgy
  • Detailed material analysis
  • Biological analysis (subject to pre-processing depending on kind)


  • SPACE! The size approximates a bigger desk.
    • Idea: move the current desk containing the t-shirt press (which can also stored on a shelf and used on the main desks, as it is only used occasionally) and microscope (deprecated) out of the way.
  • Electricity! It's a rather heavy machine on max draw of 2300W.
    • If this is problematic for normal usage: charge for use?
  • Sound: the roughing pump is rather loud, which you do not want in a normal lounge room.
    • Possible to keep it at short distance from the actual machine, so it's possible to put it on the other side of a drilled-through wall.
  • Maintenance! Normal maintenance requires just cleaning and very occasional Tungsten fillament replacement, which is cheap.
    • Roughing pump breaks: fairly cheap to replace;
    • Turbo pump breaks: moderately expensive but also very hard to break;
    • Vacuum failure: SEM has protection against this, would at most be just replacing the O-rings;
    • Column breaks: rather expensive, but completely avoidable given good instructions, and there is a good manual for newbies available;


2019/10/15 (Shiz): created project page