Sirion: SEM & EDS

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Sirion SEM
Instrument Type Microscopy
Techniques SEM, EDS,
Immersion Lens Imaging
Staff Manager Matthew S. Hunt, PhD
Staff Email
Staff Phone 626-395-5994
Reserve time on LabRunr
Request training by email
Lab Location B209 Steele
Lab Phone 626-395-1541
Manufacturer FEI (now Thermo Fisher)
Model Sirion (aka XL-30)


The Sirion is a field emission gun (FEG) scanning electron microscope (SEM) equipped with an immersion lens for imaging sub-10 nm features (so-called "ultra high resolution mode," UHR) and an energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) detector for compositional analysis. While it is the KNI's oldest SEM, it is also a very steady instrument, offering a lower-cost alternative to similar high-resolution imaging that is available on the newer Nova 600 & Nova 200 NanoLab platforms. The smaller Sirion chamber also allows for fast pump and vent times, which makes this SEM very useful for quick inspection. See a full list of training and educational resources for this instrument below.

SEM Applications
  • Ultra-High-Resolution Imaging (Immersion Mode aka UHR Mode)
  • High-Resolution Imaging (Field-Free Mode aka Normal Mode)
  • EDX Mode Imaging (reduces background signal on EDS spectra)
  • Secondary Electron (SE) & Backscattered Electron (BSE) Imaging
  • Everhart-Thornley Detector (ETD) & Through-the-Lens Detector (TLD)
EDS Applications
  • Spectrum acquisition for quantitative compositional analysis
  • Linescan acquisition for 1D spatial compositional analysis
  • Map acquisition for 2D spatial compositional analysis


SOPs & Troubleshooting
Video Tutorials
Graphical Handouts
Manufacturer Manuals
Calibrate Measurements with NIST Standard
  • The KNI has a NIST-traceable standard against which SEM measurements can be compared. See Slides 54-55 of the SEM Presentation for details. Ask staff for help finding and using the standard in the lab.
Simulation Software
Sample Preparation
  • Use the Carbon Evaporator to make non-conductive samples conductive by applying 2-10 nm of evaporated carbon.
  • Use the O2/Ar Plasma Cleaner to remove hydrocarbons from the sample surface to avoid creating dark contamination spots on your features while imaging them.
Order Your Own Stubs
  • Stubs used for mounting specimens are considered a personal, consumable item in the KNI. There are some old stubs at each SEM, yet you should buy your own so that you can keep them clean and available to you. There are many stub geometries and configurations, some of which will be right for you to purchase and keep with your other cleanroom items.


Manufacturer Specifications
SEM Specifications
  • Minimum Feature Size Resolved: ~7 nm
  • Voltage Range: 0.2 to 30.0 kV
  • Current Range: "Spotsize" 1 to 7 (approximately 30 pA to 20 nA), with increments of 1
  • Apertures: 30 μm, 40 μm, 50 μm, 100 μm
  • Eucentric Height: 5 mm working distance (WD)
  • Stage Range: ±25 mm X & Y travel, 50 mm Z travel, 0-45° tilt, 360° rotation
  • ETD Grid Bias Range: -150 to 300 V
  • TLD Bias Range: -100 to 150 V
  • Ultimate Vacuum: 3e-6 mbar

Related Instrumentation in the KNI

Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEMs)
Focused Ion Beam (FIB) Systems
Sample Preparation for Microscopy
Transmission Electron Microscopes
Scanning Probe Microscopes