GATAN Precision Ion Polishing System (PIPS)

The Gatan 691 Precision Ion Polishing System (PIPSTM) is a user-friendly precision Argon ion beam polisher designed to produce high quality, TEM specimens with minimal effort. Ion polishing is done by two variable-angle, miniature Penning ion guns. The operating angles of the guns, ± 10 deg., are independent of one another. Both guns accurately center the beam onto the specimen at any angle within this range. Theguns provide bright high current Argon ion beams and are capable of very high thinning rates. Easy alignment features are provided to accurately center the beams on the specimen. These features make it possible to thin specimens at very low angles in a reasonably short time. An optical stereo microscope is used to inspect the specimen in its working position at any time during the thinning process to achieve precise control over the final stage of specimen thinning. This feature is especially important for insulators and semiconductors since these materials are transparent to light and the interference-fringe technique can be used to control the final specimen thickness in the region of interest to anaccuracy of about ±10 nm.

Several unique design features are incorporated into the Gatan PIPS:

  • High milling rates at shallow angles.
  • Milling angle +10° to -10°, Each gun independently adjustable
  • Milling voltage: - 100eV to 6.0KeV
  • Load lock for fast and simple specimen exchange.
  • Specimen holders for double sided, low angle milling.
  • Beam modulation offering both single and double sector milling.
  • Liquid N2 double tilt holder


Senior Research Scientist
Coordinator, Molecular Beam Epitaxy Facility