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Saturday, March 2, 2024

The Open Beam Interface Affords Digital Picture Seize From Nearly Any Scanning Electron Microscope

Electron microscope engineers Adam McCombs and Isabel Burgos have opened pre-orders for a small-run batch of the Open Beam Interface — billed as the primary open supply digital picture seize machine for scanning electron microscopes (SEMs).

“Deliver your analog SEM into the digital world, throughout one USB Kind-C connection,” McCombs writes of the machine, which hyperlinks to open supply software program able to digitising pictures from a broad vary of SEM gadgets at resolutions as much as 16,384×16,384. “We’re obsessive electron (and ion) microscope hackers and maintainers working to allow extra folks to actually personal these techniques. Via freely shared data and resourceful engineering we need to open the way in which for exploration by educating outdated microscopes new methods and microscope house owners new expertise.”

Scanning electron microscopes go significantly past optical microscopes, peering down at scales the place optical microscopy cannot attain by bombarding a goal with a centered beam of electrons that work together on an atomic stage in a manner that may be measured and decoded into a picture. Whereas historically the protect of well-funded laboratories, older SEMs discover their manner into hackers’ palms not-infrequently — and the Open Beam Interface goals to make it simpler to get high quality imagery out of them.

“We’ve crafted this board to help as many microscopes as potential,” the pair write of the machine and its software program stack. “We have no idea of a SEM or FIB [Focused Ion Beam] that particularly doesn’t have these indicators someplace inside that may be tapped. Many microscopes have an current devoted connector for exterior scan inputs. This was usually initially for exterior beam management coming from EDS or different X-Ray mapping techniques. For microscopes that wouldn’t have a devoted exterior scan connector, the X and Y ramps that drive the scan coils exist someplace.”

Pushed by a field-programmable gate array (FPGA) programmed in Amaranth HDL and constructing atop the Glasgow Interface Explorer, the Open Beam Interface gives two high-speed digital-to-analog converters (DACs) and a single high-speed analog-to-digital converter (ADC). Utilizing this, the SEM’s electron beam may be managed and the ensuing information captured for decoding right into a high-resolution. There is a dwell view mode, for focusing the beam, and picture seize at a formidable 16,384×16,384 decision.

The board and its software program have been examined with the JEOL 35C, 840, and 63/6400 SEMs, McCombs and Burgos notice, whereas “partial help” is feasible on FEI XP gadgets together with the FIB 200, Expedia 830, and Expedia 1230. “Tapping into the sign path might require fabricating a customized cable,” they warn of gadgets not but examined.

These with an SEM interested by ordering from an preliminary batch of six Open Beam Interface boards can contact McCombs on Mastodon for particulars; the {hardware} designs, in the meantime, can be found on GitHub beneath the weakly reciprocal CERN Open {Hardware} License.

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