WATLab News Archive

 

 

  26 Jan 2018 - New beginning  - This year, we will be trying to bring the Raith Ion Beam Lithography system on line and into user service.  The Ion Beam Lithography system is one of the very few such systems in the world, and it adds unique capabilities not found in conventional lithography tools (such as EBL).  Currently, the source of this unique system is somewhat unstable and the manufacturer is trying hard to stabilize operation.  The LEO appears to be stable at 20 kV and some users have begun to use the Nabity EBL system again.  We encourage users with high outgassing samples to try out the Environmental SEM, with a very easy-to-use EDS system.  We are also accepting samples for TEM and FIB runs.  We are looking forward to an exciting year and wish the users best of luck with their work in the coming months!

 

 15 Dec 2017 - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  - As WATLab must transition to a totally self-sufficient operating model in an increasingly challenging environment in the next two years, we are grateful to have the support of our loyal users.  In the past several months, some of the our machines have clearly shown their age and experienced unforeseen downtime intermittently.  We thank our users for their patience and their understanding while we struggle to fix these systems without a service contract.  The University will close by Dec 22, and we take this opportunity to wish our users the merriest holiday season, the best of luck in their research endeavour, and prosperous data mining to come in 2018! 

 

 10 Nov 2017 - LEO resuming user service  - We are bringing the LEO back online and into user service.  The probe current is lower than spec but it is extremely stable (with variation less than 5%).  The image quality is also good.  Please limit the EHT to not greater than 15 kV (as anything higher than 15 kV could cause arcing and kill the gun).  As we will be resetting the user data base, please see Nina or Lei if you experience any problem logging on.  We thank you for your cooperation and for your patience during the past several difficult months as we tried to fix this SEM. 

 

30 Oct 2017 - Removing users not showing up - As the Ultra is becoming rather busy lately, we wish to remind all users to show up at the reserved time.  Please remove your booking at least 24 hours before the reserved time (if your sample is not ready), so as to allow other users enough time to rebook the released time.  Please be considerate to your fellow users, whose works are just as important and as urgent as yours.  We have begun to remove access privilege from users whom we have not been able to convince to adhere to the reserved booking.  We thank you for your cooperation. 

 

26 Oct 2017 - LEO returning to user service, maybe? - The LEO suffered a filament loss in July - this was the shortest filament lifetime that this machine has experienced, about 5 months.  The cause appeared to be a very tiny leak just above the column valve (V3).  Various attempts have been made to fix this leak.  To minimize the effect of this tiny leak on the filament, we have also rebuilt the ion pump in the gun chamber to try to increase local pumping in this region (which has caused a substantial delay).  A new filament was activated on Tuesday, and we are currently running some stability tests.  If the source is stable, we will release the machine for user service hopefully by Nov 2.  We thank our loyal users for their patience during this challenging time.

 

7 July 2017 - LEO down for the next four weeks - Other SEMs available - During the filament change of the LEO in June, we have encountered a tricky vacuum problem in the gun.  The engineer returned this week but the problem remained unresolved.  We will need to acquire some more parts before we could go further.  This unfortunately will take some time (4-8 weeks).  In the meantime, all SEM users are encouraged to contact Nina re use of the Ultra (ultrahigh resolution SEM) or Quanta (Environmental SEM), as appropriate.  Some users will require additional training (from Nina for the Ultra, and from Lei for the Quanta).  For the EBL users who depend on the LEO Nabity EBL system, we are releasing the Merlin (state-of-the-art SEM) with advanced Fibics NPVE nanofabrication tool.  Lei is in the final stage of making the workflow more robust.  Please contact him for training.  We apologise for any inconvenience and we hope the current EM solution will help to advance the research of our loyal users.

 

 31 May 2017 - Charge compensation in ESCALab - The Thermo engineer has resolved the charge compensation problem in the ESCALab.  The system is now close to spec and capable of handling insulating samples.  Highly outgassing samples (containing S and/or P) remain a challenge for XPS facilities and UHV systems in general., because S will corrode the lens elements over time, rendering the electron optics ineffective.  With the assistance of a few user groups, we are developing a few pre-analysis sample cleaning protocols to see if we can at least reduce this type of contamination issues.

 

 31 May 2017 - High kV problem in LEO - The engineer is scheduled to be on site by mid June  to see if we can resolve the high kV arcing problem.  Please hang tight.  In the meantime, we encourage the users to try out the ESEM and/or the Ultra.

 

21 Feb 2017 - Calendar booking becoming unreliable - We have noticed that an increasing number of users signed up the tool but failed to show up.  This is unacceptable, because the no-show booking is blocking another user from using the machine.  Some deleted their bookings a few hours or a few minutes before the reserved time slots and hoped that no one noticed.  Well, we do notice, and we are keeping track of who is doing this.  Those who continue to disregard the honour system will soon lose their machine privilege.  Please consult the WATLab FAQ  regarding booking cancellation policy.
 

If you are not sure whether your samples will be ready at the time of your booking, we suggest that you do not book ahead.  Instead, you should try a "walk-in", i.e. check if the machine is free at the time you wish to use the tool and if it's free, then you can just go ahead and use it until the next reserved time.  If you make a reservation on the calendar, we and all other users expect you to show up. 

 

10 Feb 2017 - LEO resuming  normal operation -  Ultra resuming limited operation - The FE source in the LEO has been replaced and the system appears to be functioning close to spec.  There is a minor change to the setup.  The EDS system still needs some calibration (use at your own risk) but the SEM imaging is good.  Please see one of WATLab staff before startup. 

For the Ultra, the on-going instability problem has been narrowed down to the mechanical joystick.  We have engaged the "soft joystick" to move the stage.  Please see one of WATLab staff before startup.  Ultra has also been upgraded to Windows7 and the latest version of SmartSEM (V 6.0).  Please report any issues to Nina or Lei. 

 

24 Jan 2017 - LEO system down - After 2.9 year, the FE source in the LEO is finally gone.  We have contacted the engineer and help is on its way.  Hopefully, we can get this back up as soon as possible.  Please watch this space for further news.  In the meantime, please see if your work can take advantage of the environmental SEM. 

 

 

11 Jan 2017 - Happy New Year ! - WATLab remains Canada's premier advanced materials research lab that supports multi-mission research with state-of-the-art and unique tools.  WATLab will try to survive better this year under an increasingly hostile local operating climate.  We don't expect significant changes to our toolset this year, except to bring the new Raith IonLine system online and into user service.  This is Canada's first and only ion beam lithography system (one of just a handful in the world) and we hope to enable new device sciences with this new tool.  We will also try to resolve ongoing stability issues with the Ultra and to complete system upgrades for the ESCAlab.

We thank our loyal users for their continued support, and we wish them a fantastic year of discovery and lots of great data to come! 


5 Dec 2016 - ESCA and Microlab  upgrades in progress
- The engineer is on site to upgrade the data systems for both the ESCALab and MicroLab to W7.  As with all upgrades and maintenance, there is always a risk.  These systems will be unavailable until further notice. - Please contact Jung Soo or Lei. 

1 Dec 2016 - Ultra PC  upgraded with new SmartSEM - The Ultra PC has been upgraded and we now have the latest version of SmartSEM installed - all in preparation for commissioning correlative microscopy.  We are in the process of reestablishing all the SEM user accounts - Please contact Nina.

 

10 Nov 2016 - Quanta FEG environmental SEM fully operational - The FEI Quanta FEG has been on line and fully operational for nearly a year.  This system has full SSD EDS system and the image quality is excellent because of the FE source.  We encourage all the users with highly outgassing materials (such as porous materials or loose powders) to get trained on this machine  - Please contact Lei or Nina.

 

1 Nov 2016 - New Correlative Light - Electron Microscopy coming to the Ultra - The new correlative light microscopy system along with the unique Shuttle&Find system has been delivered and is expected to be installed in 2-3 weeks.  This upgrade will allow us to correlate polarization and fluorescence LM info with detailed EM info.

 

25 May 2016 - New SSD-based EDS system coming to the LEO - An Oxford Xmax SSD EDS system is on order and will replace our 15 years old EDAX system.  We expect to commission this as soon as possible within the next 2 months.  With the SSD, there is no need for liquid nitrogen and we hope the s/w will be more user friendly.  Some quick re-training will be needed.

 

21 April 2016 - All tools are up.  Happy data mining - Service was performed for both the LEO and Ultraplus SEMs. EBL users of the LEO should be aware that the beam is now much better aligned and they may need to do appropriate beam calibration.  A new filament has been installed in the Ultraplus and the tool will be released if it passes the stability and performance tests.   Image quality has been improved significantly for both SEMs. 

 

 30 September 2015 - WATLab new PROMO launched  -  See WATLab Primer.  And, take a virtual tour with us, let's go to WATLab Virtual Tour 480p or  YouTube.

 

8 January 2016 - All tools are up.  Happy data mining -  Happy New Year!

 

 1 October 2015 - WATLab promotion - new low rates for SEM and other tools for the present cycle -  For more details, please see current WATLab Newsletter.

 

 10 July 2015 - Ultraplus resuming normal operation  - The Ultraplus issues have been resolved, and EDX has been calibrated.  As a general operating procedure, please always exit the EDX software FIRST, before logging out SmartSEM.  We are resuming normal operation..

 

15 June 2015 - FEI Quanta Feg 250 Environmental SEM now on line  - The new environmental SEM is now online and a few users have used it and it appears to be working well. For users who may wish to use this, please discuss this with Lei for training.

 

 1 June 2015 - Ultra on limited operation  - We have determined that the "lock-up" problem is likely due to overheating in the Mains PCB in the Ultra.  A temporary fix is in place.  The machine is now put back in user service while we monitor the system.  Please discuss this with Nina if you wish to book time on this machine.  We thank you for your continued patience.

 

 13 March 2015 - Canada's first IBL system to begin installation today  - Commissioning of Canada's first ion beam lithography (IBL) system has began this week.  Manufactured by Raith, this IBL tool will allow true 3D nanofabrication and nanolithography over a large write-field with an impressive ultrahigh spatial resolution of sub-10 nm.  Like the Helium Ion Microscope (and a few other tools in WATLab), this is a unique tool in Canada (with just one other older system in southern U.S. and less than 10 in the rest of the world). This tool will provide us and all Canadian users new capabilities to begin constructing novel 3D quantum devices at the nanoscale.  This tool is made possible with funding from CFI, Government of Ontario, and University of Waterloo.  Installation is expected to go on in the next 5-10 days.

 

 11 March 2015 - New ESEM to be installed in early April  - We are preparing our site for installation of a new FEI Quanta FEG 250 system.  This environmental SEM will allow us to look at "wet" samples and we expect to begin installation by early April.

 

  12 Jan 2015 - Happy New Year!  - The EDX detector has been fixed and reinstalled.  Please contact Nina if you want to use EDX in the near future.

 

  22 Dec 2014 - Merry Christmas and All the Best in 2015 !  - The EDX detector has been repaired and we will reinstall it back in the LEO in the new year.  In late January, WATLab will be installing a new Environmental SEM system, which will enable our users to look at materials with a high vapour pressure.  We will also be commissioning a Canada's first Ion Beam Lithography system (one of just 10 systems in the world) very soon.  This IBL system will allow us to write 3D nanostructures over a large write-field (mm) at 10 nm or less resolution.  We look forward to exciting new science to be achieved with these new tools.  We take this opportunity to thank our users for their patience and understanding during the various tool commissioning at qnc this past year, and hope to have their continued support in 2015.

 

 27 Nov 2014 - EDX problem update  -  We have sent the EDX detector out for repair and it is undergoing system testing to assure that it meets specifications.  We expect that it will be shipped back to us in early December.  We thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter.

 

 17 Sep 2014 - EDX problem update  -  We are running some more tests on our recent EDX problem.  We are also pursuing a plan B in the event that we could not fix the EDX system.  Those users who urgently need EDX analysis can talk to Nina.  We thank you for your patience and understanding in this matter.

 

  24 June 2014 - LEO resuming normal operation  -  We finally resolved the pressure burst issue, and the LEO will be back in service effective immediately.  Please respond any issue to Nina.  We thank you for your patience.

 

  23 May 2014 - LEO to resume partial operation on Monday  -  We could only partially rescue the machine and we need to get some spare parts in order to complete the repair.  In the meantime, the machine can be used under strict "supervised" conditions to prevent further problems.  Please get hold of Yao, Lei or Nina before you load and unload your samples during your reserved time slot.  Thank you for your cooperation.

 

  21 May 2014 - LEO to resume normal operation on Friday  -  Service from Zeiss Canada had created more problems for the LEO after their service and basically broke our system last week.  We introduced our countermeasure to rescue the system.  If all goes well, LEO will be back in operation tomorrow on 22 May 2014.

 

  12 May 2014 - Zeiss to fix LEO gun column issues  -  LEO 1530 will be down till mid next week. to allow the engineer to fix the gun column issue related to arcing above 10 kV.

 

9 May 2014 - WATLab website update complete  -  Next update in 2 months.

 

24 February 2014 - WATLab to begin TEM/FIB service on March 3 at qnc-Metrology  -  The newly commissioned TEM & FIB will be put online on March 3.  Please contact us for further details.

 

5 February 2014 - WATLab is extending services into the QNC -  The LEO 1530 SEM is now back on line, after a new filament install.  We will gradually reinstate SEM operation back in qnc B707.  Please note that due to security concern, all space in qnc Metrology will be monitored online with hidden camera. 

 

After many years of trying to get a TEM on campus, we have finally succeeded in securing a high-performance 200 kV TEM.  The Zeiss Libra 200 MC has been installed before Christmas and we have been doing extensive machine physics studies on the machine while trying to resolve a number of ongoing issues in the building.   We will be gradually rolling out TEM service.  Our rate will be very competitive compared to similar nearby facilities.

 

13 December 2013 - WATLab is scheduled to shut down for the Christmas break  on 20 Dec 2013 noon - WATLab had an interesting year, with much of tool installation (including the TEM and FIB at qnc Metrology) now behind us.  We will soon in the new year begin putting some of these tools online.  In the meantime, WATLab wishes everyone a safe and happy holiday, and all the best for 2014.

 

 

1 November 2013 - SEM Status Update- Both the LEO and Ultra have been down for the past several weeks due to various failure.  We now have an service engineer on site to resolve these issues.  If all goes well, we hope to put at least one of the systems back in service very soon.

 

18 September 2013 Internet policy in WATLab - After taking the LEO back online for just 2 weeks or so, we observed some unusual behaviour with LEO's User PC.  This could be a hidden virus and we are investigating...

From now on, NO user is allowed to use any of the WATLab's PCs to connect to the web.  If a user gets caught in doing this, he/she will be denied access permanently!  I think it is of interest to all users to try to keep WATLab's computers clean b/c if one user starts to import virus onto a WATLab's computer, it will spread to all the PCs of our entire user base.  This is not good for us or for all of our users.   I suggest all users to bring their own laptops and use the wifi.  Again, no activity other than data transfer is allowed on any of the WATLab's computers.  Zero tolerance. 

Very soon... we will bolt down the usb key security issue.  If you are not sure how clean your usb key is, please ask us and we will provide  a free blank CD to burn your data.   USB key is now the most vulnerable security risk in our entire data transfer protocol.  Thank you.

 

6 September 2013 Ultra stage broken - A user dropped the sample holder onto the stage, which broke the Y motion drive, rendering the entire SEM useless.  The UltraPlus SEM will be down until further notice.  This will be an expensive repair. 

As a temporary measure, we are reactivating the relocated LEO service (now with EDX support) - EBL feature will take a little bit longer.  

Please note that for safety reason, we will be remotely monitoring the activity in the qnc B707 via an IP camera from C2.  The live feed will be password protected and will not be recorded.  This setup will allow us to run to rescue the user quickly (from C2), should some accident occurs.

 

5 July 2013 qNC metrology tool deployment update- After much anticipation and delays, we finally have power and the essential services in the qNC Metrology Lab.  At last, we are in a position to begin tool deployment.  We expect that the environmental conditions to be far from ideal and not to spec as there continue to be some issues with various support systems in the building.  We are trying to work out these bugs with the renno folks.

If all goes well, we are hoping that the SEM, FIB, SAXS, XRD (new powder XRD tool), and SQUID will be online by mid August, at which time we will begin commissioning of the TEM.  The TEM installation is a big job as there will be new optics and new EDX detector installed on site.  The AFM and optical microscope fleet are expected to be online by late September (once the renno for the respective labs are ready).

In the meantime, we are business as usual here at WATlab.  Have a nice summer and happy data mining!  

 

31 May 2013 - Just one day after the Shops have rebuilt the sample holder for the Ultra, it has been destroyed!  We are extremely unhappy about this.  There are now some users with a heavy hand among us and they are destroying everything.  I'm going to conduct on-the-spot random testing of all the users.  Careless users will have the access privilege of himself/herself and members of his/her entire group suspended immediately.  A sample holder costs about $10k from Zeiss.  We just could not collect enough user fees to pay for this type of careless use from one or a few bad users.

 

The hood for sample preparation and the SEM bench area are becoming quite untidy with carbon tape and dirty gloves everywhere.  Please clean up the SEM bench area and the hood area after each session (regardless of whether you use it or not).   If we all do this simple tidying-up, everyone's life will be a bit better.  It only takes a minute or two to pick up after oneself.  There will be a cleaning fee equivalent to 1 hr SEM if these areas are left untidy for the next user.

 

6 April 2013 - WATLab has extended the SEM service for those hard workers (and experienced users!) who want to do data mining on Saturday morning.  Please note that this time slot will be opened as long as I'm on site to open the lab door.  I'll block off time if I don't plan to be on site.  Please check the booking calendar before showing up.  Tong

 

3 January 2013 - Happy New Year!  May 2013 bring all our users happiness in life and in research.  
We look forward to the installation of the long-awaited TEM (as soon as the renovation is completed in the various labs in the qNC domain).  We have also expanded our nanomachining capability at WATLab - see UW Seal with the smallest feature size of 5 nm - perhaps a world record - written by a helium ion beam.

 

11 September 12 - LEO now off-line:   TheLEO 1530 is now off-line.  We will try to reactivate the system as soon as possible, upon its relocation to the QNC building.  As a temporary measure, we will train one "senior user", designated by each group,  to use the new UltraPlus SEM now fully operational at WATLab.  We will continue to provide OS service during this hopefully short period.  Thank you for your understanding.

 

28 August 12 - SEM shutdown on September 8:   We now have a firm date (September 8) that we will temporarily shut down and store the LEO 1530 till its relocation to  the QNC building.  As we have not been told a definite QNC move-in date, we are unsure how long this shut down will last, hopefully no more than 3 weeks.  Please plan your work accordingly.  In the meantime, we will provide OS SEM service on our other WATLab systems.

 

2 August 12 - Anticipated SEM shutdown in mid September:   As the new QNC building is slowly coming online, we are planning to re-establish the SEM operation there, which will result in the loss of service for about one month.  While we will try to minimize service interruption as much as possible, we are advising all users to plan a bit ahead and do your samples now!  Relocating a machine is always a tricky business and sometimes it could unearth unexpected issues.

 

27 June 12 - SEM down till Monday:  We are experiencing some computer issues with the SEM.  We have recovered the system but will need the next two days to stabilize operation and to do some much needed system maintenance and backup.   If all goes well, we will resume normal operation on Monday July 2.

 

4 June 12 *** State-of-the-art ION-TOF SIMS-5 system now fully operational:  We have successfully completed full commissioning of the new state-of-the-art ION-TOF Static SIMS system, equipped with Canada's first argon cluster source.   The new Ar cluster source enables precise sputtering of organic films without introducing significant interlayer mixing and matrix effects.  This will be particularly powerful for organic layer and biomaterial characterization. 

 

WATLab will be accepting SIMS samples on OS basis by July 1.

 

WATLab is now accepting HIM samples on OS basis.  If you have samples, please contact Lei.

 

WATLab will begin tool deployment of the FIB and TEM hopefully in July.  If the QNC building move-in date is on schedule, then we expect both tools to be fully commissioned before the end of September.   Same deployment schedule is expected for the SQUID and other tools.

 

1 May 12 *** EBL & EDX imaging back to normal operation:  We have traced these problems to a bad switch.   Both techniques should now work properly.

 

3 Apr 12 *** EBL taken off line until further notice  We are experiencing image blackout with the EDX system.  A possible cause could be some sort of communication protocol conflicts between the EDX and EBL systems.  To investigate this further, we need to take the EBL system off line, fix the EDX and then wait and see if this problem occurs again.   If you are using the EBL system, we apologise for the inconvenience.  We encourage you to use the QNC EBL system in the meantime.

 

12 Jan 12 *** Update on QNC tool acquisition and deployment:  See message sent to WIN membership via WIN office on 3 Jan 12.- For more info, please contact Tong.

 

28 Apr 11 *** SEM resuming normal operation on 3 May 2011  A solid state relay on the vacuum board was found to be malfunctioning, which blocked the power up sequences of the foreline and  turbo pumps.  Jacek was able to replace this relay and we will be conducting machine physics for the rest of this week.  WATLab will resume normal SEM operation on Tuesday, May 3.

 

23 Apr 11 *** SEM Down until further notice  The LEO has suffered a vacuum problem and the foreline pump has problem starting up.  We are investigating the cause.  The system will be down until further notice.   Sorry for the inconvenience. 

 

22 Apr 11 *** ORION Plus ON-LINE  The ORION Plus Helium Ion Microscope has been installed in C2-080 and achieved spec-on-site (with 0.34 nm resolution) on 19 April, 2010.  We expect full operation within the next two months.

 

30 Mar 11 *** ORION Plus Helium Ion Microscope  Canada's very first Helium Ion Microscope will be installed in C2-080.  The new ion microscope is offering unprecedented spatial resolution of 0.35 nm with Z contrast for both hard and soft, conducting and nonconducting materials.  This unique tool is expected to put WATLab and uWaterloo at the cutting edge of microscopy research and nanosciences.

 

28 Mar 11 *** EBL Software upgrade:    A new version of the Nabity EBL software is being installed along with a new PC.  The EBL system will be down until further notice.  Sorry for the inconvenience.

 

10 Jan 11 *** Messy workplace    After just one week from startup, we found that the sample prep hood was once again left with a big mess.  Once the entropy has started, the second law of thermodynamics will take over WATLab in no time.  We have implemented the following countermeasures:

 

1.  From now on, anyone caught leaving a big mess in the SEM, hood, gold coater, and other areas of WATLab will be charged a clean-up fee equivalent to 1 h of OS.   We will do a spot-check before and after each user's session to assure compliance.  As we just don't have human resource to clean up after these messy users, chronic messy users will be banished from WATLab altogether.  Each user MUST leave the workplace in a tidy and clean condition for the next user.

 

2.  Some users still don't know how to use the new system of the gold coater and proceed to unplug things on their own.  This is NOT acceptable.  If you have questions, please come to ask one of us.   If these users cannot follow the protocol, we will discontinue gold coating service at WATLab.

 

3 Jan 11 *** Happy New Year!   As we start this exciting new year (celebrating the International Year of Chemistry), we wish to draw your attention to the new booking system now in place (below).   In the interest of streamlining our operation, accounting and billing will only be done once a year (from April 2010 to February 2011) - please inform your boss and this will be done later in February.  WATLab will be completing all the upgrades to the SEM this term, including the upgrade to the Nabity EBL system.  WATLab is looking forward to the commissioning of the first Helium Ion Microscope in Canada (expected later in the spring) and of the first Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry system on campus (expected later in the fall).  Various enhancements of our other materials science techniques will be made along the way, budget permitting.  With these new and upgraded existing tools, we hope that WATLab will continue to play a key role in enabling our users to engage in exciting new research in science and technology in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, and beyond in 2011.  Happy data mining.

 

3 Dec 10 *** New SEM booking system now in place:  The Bookit system will be coming down on Dec 13.  WATLab will not move to its replacement (Outlook Exchange) b/c it's far too complicated to manage.  Instead, we will use google calendar. Beginning Dec 13, all SEM reservation will be made by logging in at:

 

http://calendar.google.com

 

Sign in with the login name   watlab.sem   and the appropriate password.  Certified users may obtain the new password from Nina.  As we are experimenting with this booking system, we wish to remind the user that the normal operating hours are 8 am to 4 pm, Monday to Friday.  We will block off Operator Service time slots once the system is stabilized.  We hope we could rely on all of our users to have some patience with each other as we go through this transition phase.  In the meantime, we take this opportunity to wish you all a happy holidays and all the best in 2011.

 

21 Oct 10 *** CCEM One-day Workshop:   There is a one-day microscopy workshop at Mac on Nov 5, 2010 (Friday).  Please see the workshop poster here

 

20 Oct 10 *** Computer security:  We are aware of the ongoing issues with the Raith EBL system at QNC.  This has been traced back to a USB stick of a user infected with the so-called "Chinese virus" that is known to infect not only the cpu of any computer but also any EPROM or processor in any electronic device (including all the electronic boards inside the SEM and virtually any machine systems at WATLab).  This type of virus is also very difficult to kill once it gets inside a "controller" as antivirus programs will not work with controllers without the proper OS.  This is a real and very potent threat and can serious damage not just all the computer systems and machines in WATLab but also all the computers of our entire user base and their groups.  We therefore ask all users to implement the following counter-measures:

 

1.  Do NOT use any of WATLab computers, including the USER DATA computer that stores the SEM images, for any email or messaging or internet or social networking activities.  Under no circumstances should any of the machine computers see the internet - do not run the browsers on these machines!  Anyone caught with using the browsers on these machines (including the SEM, EDX and EBL computers) will be banished forever from WATLab.  Please bring your own laptop for these activities and use wireless access.

 

2.  Do NOT bring in any old or suspect USB stick for transferring data.  Please RESERVE (and label) one new USB stick just for this purpose and don't use it for anything else.  WATLab will also provide blank DVD for writing data, if needed.  The idea is to minimize exposure of our systems to the external world.

 

3.  Please report to us ANY user activity that does not follow these simple rules.  I think we all agree that it is of everyone's interest to protect WATLab's systems because once affected they will become the point of infection that spreads the virus to all the computers of anyone who uses WATLab.  This could affect us all very negatively, especially our graduate students who may be writing their theses.

 

Thank you for your continued cooperation.

 

11 Oct 10 *** EBL upgrade & spectroscopy fleet relocation: There will be a software (to Version 9 and XP) and hardware upgrade (control board) to the Nabity EBL system, which will improve the write speed and off-line design flexibility.  We will implement this change during machine physics time slots and hopefully with minimal service interruption.

WATLab is expanding into some recently found space to accommodate the two new instrument clusters and the RPL.  We will also be able to relocate the spectroscopy fleet to this new space before Christmas.  We expect this should relieve the severe space shortage experienced in all areas of WATLab.

 

 3 Sept 10 *** Normal operation: As we begin a very busy fall term, we wish to again remind the user of the heavy fines for late start and no show.  Please have your sample in hand before making machine reservation to avoid these penalties.  Please also note that we have made an adjustment to the gold coating cost due to the sharp rise in gold prices and added a surcharge to those who just use our gold coater and not our SEM.

 

22 July 10 *** Vacuum problem: We have located the leak and removed this problem temporarily.  A new vacuum readout problem has emerged and we have been working on this last week.  We don't think we have completely resolved this issue but we will resume normal service starting July 23.  Thank you for our patience.

 

6 July 10 *** Vacuum problem:The chamber pressure has become very poor.  We have replaced the turbo but the problem remains.  We are in contact with the service engineer to find a fix.  System will be down until further notice.  Please watch the bookit scheduler.

 

5 July 10 *** Stage fixed, but what a messy workplace:  The stage issue has been fixed for now.  The system will be available by noon.

 

But I found the clean hood and the SEM general area are always left in a big mess!  I spent 20 minutes cleaning this up this morning and we will not do this again.  From now on, we will check the lab condition after each user has completed the session.  If we find the workplace is left in a messy and disorganized condition, we will charge a lab cleanup fee ($50) to the user.  Please treat your fellow user with some respect and leave a clean, tidy and pleasant work environment for the next user.  Thank you very much for your cooperation.

4 July 10 *** Stage failure:  The stage cannot be initialized in the X-Y plane and we cannot use the system until further notice.  We are investigating the cause of the failure.

26 June 10 *** Upgrade complete:  The various upgrades for the SEM/EDX/OIM systems are finally complete.  Zeiss has fixed the miscellaneous air-jack problem and has also replaced the power control board (that gave the 24 V error).  We don't expect any more service interruption until the filament dies.  Our backlog appears to be improving (down to 2 weeks).

 

4 June 10 *** No show and cancellation:  We notice a large number of recent no shows and last-minute cancellations.  Please note that there will be heavy fines equivalent to the OS rate ($70/h) or industrial user rate ($165/h) and we will start informing your boss.  Have some respect for other users who may need the time.  We need THREE working days for cancellation.  Do not book the machine unless you have samples in hand.

 

29 May 10 *** SEM normal operation:   Backlog is coming down to acceptable level (2 weeks).  Filament is on its last legs.  Expect filament replacement soon and minor service interruption to repair vibration membranes in the next 2-3 months.

 

31 Mar 10 *** SEM resuming normal operation:   The brief SEM pc problem (file saving issue) that one user encountered this afternoon has been resolved and we are resuming normal operation.  I'll be on site on this good Friday for those users who decide to do data mining that day.  Happy Easter.

 

21 May 10 *** Victoria Day Monday:   WATLab will be open and on normal operation on Monday 24 May 2010.

 

12 Mar 10 *** Carbon coating:   Those users doing the carbon coating are always leaving the station in a big mess and creating dangerous situation by not turning off the controller after use.  WATLab will withdraw this self-serve service.  Effectively immediately, users who will need to have their samples C-coated should submit their samples 5 working days in advance, and we will do this service for them at a charge of $50 per coating.

 

17 Feb 10 *** Spot trading:   WATLab continues to have problems with a few users not following the booking rules.  We found some of these users are starting to trade their spots with other users.  This is forbidden because the facility needs to track the machine usage in case of system breakdown.  If the user starts trading booking spots, then we will lose track of the responsible party and the type of samples that may be causing the machine problems.  This is also the reason why each user must be trained and certified individually.  There is no substitution.  From now on, users caught trading their spots will be denied access and their entire group will also be denied access.  Zero tolerance.

 

Given that WATLab does not have an army of facility staff to monitor the usage and is essentially a self-serve honour system, we hope that the user will understand that these "strict" facility rules are there to protect the machines and the general user community.  If we allow individual users to set their own rules as they please, the facility integrity will degrade quickly, which will lead to chaos that is ultimately bad for all users.

 

12 Feb 10 *** Fines for no-show doubled:   This morning, both users did not show up for their appointed time slots.  You know who you are!  This is a clear sign of lack of respect for other users, especially when we are all trying to get some time on the machine to do some work.  We have now DOUBLED the fines for no-show (i.e. twice the rate of OS = $140 per hour) and your boss will be notified.  Please remember that we require 3 working days for cancellation so that other users can rebook (it's no good if you cancel in the last minute as the time will still be wasted).  If the present countermeasure does not work, these "no-show" users will be denied future access and they will be off our grid permanently.

 

27 Jan 10 *** Booking rules and backlog:   Due to the recent surge in the SEM usage, we wish to remind everyone to treat your fellow user and the machine with respect and to observe the following protocols:

1.  Please observe the booking rules, i.e. not counting the current week, reserve in the coming weeks no more than SIX hours total in no more than FOUR time slots.  THIS MEANS: A user should reserve, in ALL of the coming weeks not counting the present week (and not per week), the total amount of time not more than 6 hours and the number of time slots not more than 4, whichever is less.  We will be monitoring this closely and implement heavy fines for users who overbook.  Users who continue to ignore the booking rules will be blocked.

2.  Please show up on time and do not book a time period longer than you need.  There will be fines for users who show up late.  Also, try not to leave too many gaps in between time slots.

3.  The fine for "no-show" is charges equivalent to hours for OS industrial rate, and we will start indicating this on our accounting statement to your boss - this means your boss will know.  We require 3 working days for cancellation to allow other users to re-book.

4.  We will be creating a new class of users to allow these "senior users" to access evening and Saturday time slots (when they become available).  Only the most responsible "permanent" users will be given this privilege.

5.  If all these measures do not work, then we will start blocking all undergraduate users from WATLab.

 

11 Dec 09 *** ORF announcement at WATLab:  Full story at TheRecord.com

 

10 Nov 09 *** OIM upgrade to begin at mid-day 1 Dec:  OIM installation will begin on Dec 1 at 1 pm and will continue for the next two days, if all goes well.  We hope that this will be the last of service interruption for this year.  In an attempt to clear some backlog, experienced users ( = users with at least 20 hours of using the machine on his/her own) can look out for available walk-in time during the next few Saturdays.  We will unlock these times 12 hours before Saturday if we are planning to be here in the weekend.   Please note that you must be an experienced user to use these times as we don't want to babysit new users - we have our own work to do.

 

27 Nov 09 *** SEM resuming normal operation on Nov 30:  We have replaced the broken Varian turbo with a replacement Varian turbo and the vacuum seems good now.  Please go easy on the system.

 

17 Nov 09 *** System down due to turbo failure:  The new Varian turbo pump installed just four months ago has failed.  This is a new low even for Varian.  WATLab has tried to be a Varian-free zone but we cannot control what the manufacturer provides in their systems.  We have contacted Zeiss and the engineer is trying to find us a replacement.  The system will be down until we can get this fixed and we expect to be at least one week.  We apologize for any inconvenience.  Update 26 Nov 09:   We have now received a replacement turbo and are waiting for instruction about the next step.  Expect down time no more than one more week.

 

27 October 09 *** Bad user behaviour:  One or more users on Monday Oct 26 have left a big mess in the sample preparation hood and in the lab in general.  This is unacceptable behaviour.  ALL USERS ARE REQUIRED TO LEAVE A "TIDY AND CLEAN" WORKPLACE FOR THE NEXT USER.  We are implementing a penalty to discourage this type of behaviour (the user will be charged for a big clean up fee and we will inform your boss about this extra billing).  Because of the current high flu season, we also hope that the user will wash their hands before coming into the lab to minimize workplace transmission.  Thank you very much for your cooperation.

 

15 October 09 *** No show:  There has been a number of no-show after the SEM has been reserved.  Please note that WATLab requires 3 working days for cancellation, and your group will be charged whether you show up for your booked session or not, as no one else can use the time slot once it has been reserved.  Please keep that in mind when you make your booking.

 

8 October 09 *** Minor mid-term cost adjustment:  The recent rise in the consumable cost, particularly the price of gold, has given us no choice but to increase the gold coating charges to $20 per 120-s coat.   Please collect eight samples together and deposit  them all at the same time to reduce gold consumption and the cost to your group.

 

8 October 09 *** OIM installation on track:  The expected upgrade to the OIM system (the last of the summer upgrade) is on schedule - expected to be after mid October.

 

 9 July 09 *** SEM NEW user rules:  The recent upgrade has cost WATLab a considerable amount of cash, none of which is covered by the user fees.  These changes are one-way only, which means that should the system go down we have no way of going back to the way we were.  Please note the following changes to the present operation:

 

1.  New hand panel:  This front-end input device replaces the ordinary keyboard but it is very expensive (cost ~$10,000, i.e. one hand panel = 500 keyboards).  As such, we really don't want the hand panel to get dirty or abused because we won't have a backup due to its high cost.  [We have seen serious abuses to the joystick (cost ~$2000 just for a refurbished one), and our Shops had to repair it a few times.]  From now on, NO FOOD or DRINK will be allowed into the SEM lab.  Please treat these as very delicate and expensive equipment with respect  as it's NOT a toy.   Indeed, we ask the user to WASH HANDS before handling any of the lab equipment, particularly the hand panel and of course the microscope.  The practice of hand washing will also help to minimize the risk of flu transfer via WATLab equipment during the flu seasons and we hope the user will appreciate this extra health and safety protection practice for all.  Any user caught with dirty hands, food or drink or leaving a messy work place for the next user will risk having his/her access revoked.

2.  New SmartSEM software:  The user will find all the icons looking different.  But all the functions are still there while they may be residing in different places.  The system now operates in XP Pro environment with dual monitor support.   Once we familiarize ourselves, we will recommend the best setup to proceed.  In the meantime, please do not hesitate to ask and do NOT explore the system on your own (because things may get messed up and we don't know how to fix it).

3.  New capabilities:  We will roll out the new capabilities as we fully test out these features to assure robustness.   Please stay with something that you know.  For now, the user will find the beam aligned a lot better than before, with the current improved by over 50%.


We think the user will like the new upgrades as these will not only make the machine even more user friendly but also improve the image quality.  Please be patient with us and with your fellow user as we are adapting to the new system.  Thank you very much for your kind cooperation.

 

 28 August 09 *** EDX Genesis Version 4.61 now in place: The new EDX software (Genesis V 4.61) has now been installed and appears to be functioning normally.  There is only very minimal front-end change noticeable to the user, but the software is claimed to have the most stable engine.  The OIM upgrade is next and expected to be sometime in mid September, which will complete the series of summer upgrades to the SEM system, making it remaining to be a state-of-the-art and most advanced field-emission machine.

 

6 August 09 *** CFI UW News Release: WATLab to lead SMO research - First Helium Ion Microscope and RPL to come to Canada...  The HIM is the most powerful microscope on Earth and UW users should be among the first to take advantage of this unique facility - the second-generation HIM!  We will be one of less than 20 sites worldwide, and the only Canadian site, to have this HIM instrument.

 

 12 July 09 *** Booking rule #3:  It has come to our attention that some users are ignoring the advance booking rule.  Please remove any extra booking slots, in keeping of Rule #3 below to allow all users a fair chance of access to the system.   All users should only reserve NO more than six hours or 3 times slots TOTAL (and not per week) in the coming weeks.  If we cannot convince the user to do this voluntarily, we may need to implement a more draconian measure.

 

 4 September 09 *** Resuming SEM on September 15: The problem has been resolved and the SEM is functional.  In the next few days, we will however be investigating the cause of the lock-up and will see if we can develop some possible safety measures to prevent similar types of lock-up and failure in future.  WATLab will resume SEM service on September 15.

 

 31 August 09 *** SEM DOWN until further notice: The y-motion axis was broken this morning.  We will try to get a replacement in as soon as possible.  In the meantime, the system is off-line.

 

 30 July 09 *** Machine instability problem:  We have been alerted that there is a potential problem related to clicking of relays on one of the boards.  We are looking into this problem, and Zeiss engineers have been contacted.

 

 30 July 09 *** OIM/EDX upgrade coming:  The OIM/EDX upgrade is on order and is expected sometimes in the next few weeks.  Instead of unnecessarily blocking off access for a whole week, we will just "bump off" the users during the two days of the installation.  ALL USERS:  Please be aware that your booking may get override by the installation on very short notice.  The upgrade will include new EDX software, and a new CCD OIM camera plus software.  More to come...

 

 6 July 09 *** SEM overhaul NOW:  Zeiss engineer will be on site starting July 7  to implement the much anticipated SEM upgrades, and the system will be down for about a week.  The user will see a significant improvement in the way the SEM works and a brief "re-training" will be needed before granting access.   After the upgrade, please book as normal but CONTACT ONE OF US BEFORE STARTING YOUR SESSION.  We will have expert users standing by to provide some help.

 

The present SEM upgrade will include:  New SmartSEM software, new hand-panel for image control, new high current mode, plus other less obvious items (new PC and new turbo).  This upgrade will bring the system back to "state-of-the-art" status, after 10 years of continued heavy usage as the singular most important tool on campus in promoting advanced materials research at Waterloo and nearby local industries.

 

This will be the first of a series of upgrades to the existing WATLab facilities...  There will be minor upgrades to the EDX/OIM system to follow in the next two months after the SEM returns to stable normal operation.

 

15 May 09 *** Restarting EBL service:  EBL users have now agreed to a new processing protocol to minimize machine contamination.  Machine conditions will be closely monitored during this restart phase.

 

11 May 09 *** WHY did Noah build the Ark?   The ESCALab was once again flooded for the second time in 3 years by shady plumbing infrastructure and years of poorly maintained building practices in C2.  This time the pouring water was fast and furious, yellow in colour and smelling bad.  It took Plant Op several people and seven hours to unclog the main drainage to resolve this flooding problem.  We are accessing the potentially huge damage to the Spectromicroscopy Lab due to the sewage water and bracing ourselves for long lost time and large repair bill.  Expect significant down time to the ESCA service...  MOVIE

 

11 May 09 *** USER DATA folder cleanup:    The USER DATA folder is down to 4 GB free space now.  All USERS: Please remove all the image files as soon as possible.  Thank you for your cooperation.

 

30 Apr 09 *** NO after-6pm access:    In order to keep a closer eye on the machine and hopefully keep it alive till the overhaul, we will not allow access after 6 pm until further notice.  Please book time in the normal hours.  We have deleted all after-hour bookings.

 

28 Apr 09 *** SEM has been fixed.  Resuming normal operation onThursday April 30:   Please note that this is a temporary fix only.  In case the system crashes or the program freezes again, please come to get one of us.   If we are not nearby, please leave a note (describing what has happened) and your extension so we can contact you later.  The accounting software will log out automatically and you won't be charged.  Please do not power down the hardware or the software because (a) it may cause further damage to the system and (b) it's easier to diagnose the problem.  Thank you for your patience and cooperation.  Also, please note that the SEM overhaul is still coming in 3-4 weeks.  Stay tuned.

 

8 Apr 09 *** EBL off-line until further notice:  Our countermeasure has failed.  We are suspending all EBL service effective immediately to see if we can minimize further contamination to the SEM.  We recommend all existing EBL users to use the UWO facility in the meantime.  We ask all remaining users to check their sample cleanliness carefully, and any user found with questionable samples will risk having their account deactivated.

 

31 Mar 09 *** SEM contamination issue:  We have detected some narrowing of the smaller slits, which suggests possible contamination from some of the users' samples.  This is not good for the users because it will also mean that all EDX quantification could be off - not to mention the high cost of replacing the slit.  Please be sure that your samples are clean and free from materials that can be easily evaporated by electron beam bombardment.  Users working with photoresists and other porous materials should definitely check their samples.  If you are not sure about your samples, please check with us for a possible handling solution.  We will be doing spot-checking in the next few weeks, and if we find some users knowingly risking the machine, we will revoke their WATLab access to protect the rest of our user base.

 

23 Mar 09 *** SEM upgrade planned:  We have entered into serious negotiation with Zeiss and EDAX to perform a long overdue system overhaul to repair both the software and some of the hardware (hand panel, turbo, pc) in the SEM, EDX and OIM systems.  It is anticipated that work will begin early or mid May and the machine is expected to be down for about a week if all goes well.  Please be advised that user booking may get overridden by this service.

13 Mar 09 *** USER FEES INCREASE:  Due to the increase in service cost and the uncertain financial outlook of WATLab, the USER FEES WILL GO UP effective 2009.  Please note the new SEM user fees ($40/h for Certified Users and $70/h for OS services) and the new cap ($4000 for every six months).  If you do not like the fees hike, please (a) talk to your Department Chair and your Dean and get them to provide direct support (not just spiritual one) to WATLab.  Kind words and nice gestures don't pay the bill.  ***Despite its perceived importance and its heavy usage from all major departments on campus, WATLab sadly does not receive a single dime from UW Administration.  We no longer have sufficient funding to continue to subsidize (yes, subsidize!!!) its expensive on-going operating cost, and will begin to implement a user fees structure that more accurately reflects the actual cost of using these expensive machines on a revenue-neutral basis.  (b) use the other on-campus facilities in the Departments of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Mechanical & Mechatronic Engineering, and Biology, and off-campus facilities (e.g. Surface Science Western at UWO, BIMR and CMC at McMaster  ***Unlike WATLab, these facilities have cash support from their respective administration and offer good services with permanent support staff to assist users year-round.