Design and analysis of a thermionic SEM column using 3D finite element analysis

Abstract – The present study covers the design and analysis of a thermionic scanning electron microscope (SEM) column. The SEM column contains an electron optical system in which electrons are emitted and moved to form a focused beam, and this generates secondary electrons from the specimen surfaces, eventually making an image. The electron optical system mainly consists of a thermionic electron gun as the beam source, the lens system, the electron control unit, and the vacuum unit.

In the design process, the dimension and capacity of the SEM components need to be optimally determined with the aid of finite element analyses. Considering the geometry of the filament, a three-dimensional (3D) finite element analysis is utilized. Through the analysis, the beam emission characteristics and relevant trajectories are predicted from which a systematic design of the electron optical system is enabled. The validity of the proposed 3D analysis is also discussed by comparing the directional beam spot radius. As a result, a prototype of a thermionic SEM is successfully developed with a relatively short time and low investment costs, which proves the adoptability of the proposed 3D analysis. © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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