Waterloo Advanced Technology Laboratory
http:// www.WATLab.com  or  http://leung.uwaterloo.ca/WATLab
University of Waterloo - Chemistry 2- Rm. 059-066/080/081A -  Tel: 519-888-4567 ext. 35826
Director - Professor Tong Leung


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What's NeXT
Last Updated2019-11-10 13:46
Contact us at: manager or director
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  5 Nov 2019 - SEMs coming back on line    Replacement part for the QUANTA has arrived and has been installed on Nov 4.  We have started normal operation on Nov 5.  On both the ULTRA and LEO, new sources have been installed and they should further improve image quality.  To give time for the new sources to stabilize, we ask the user not to set EHT above 15 kV (EDX quantification will work fine at 15 kV) for both the ULTRA and LEO until further notice.  We thank our users for their patience.  Happy data mining!


 2 Nov 2019 - Update on LEO, Ultra, Quanta   LEO:  We have an engineer on site since Wed Oct 27, to try to resolve the long-standing gun chamber vacuum issue in the LEO.  A new FE source has now been installed and the column has been aligned.  We could set the EHT up to 10 kV today and will gradually ramp up to 20 kV  in the next 3 weeks.   When the LEO is open for service, we ask our users to please not go above 10 kV or we could lose the FE source.  The Zeiss FE source is very expensive and it typically costs $10 k alone.  If we include the labour cost, then I have to sell my car to just (barely) pay for this..  ULTRA:  We also ask the engineer to take the opportunity to investigate the increasingly frequent system trip issue in the Ultra and he determined that we probably need a new FE source.  He started replacing the source this morning, and we expect that it will take at least 3 days.  Assuming things go well, we will need to allow the gun region to outgas properly and the  machine to stabilize before we could see if the machine is alive or not.  We will make this determination by Thursday.  QUANTA:  The quanta part (a pressure controlled valve to enable chamber venting) has finally been shipped from Japan on Oct 28 and we are hoping that it will arrive sometime this coming week.  Then, we will see if we could install this valve and restart service.  As always, we appreciate the understanding and patience of our users.  If the machine god is on our side and everything is successful, then the up-side is that all the SEMs will be working great and the images will be fantastic.


25 Oct 2019 - Update on Quanta - The Electron Shop has just been informed by the supplier that because the valve is coming from Japan, it will take an extra week.  The anticipated delivery date is Nov 4.  We apologise for the inconvenience and we thank our users for their patience.


3 Oct 2019 - Quanta down for about 2 weeks  - One of the valves in the pressure manifold in the Quanta has blown.  The Electronics Shop has ordered a valve and it is expected to be here in ~2 weeks.  We shall try to repair the system as soon as the part arrives.  Sorry for the inconvenience and thank you for your understanding.


   18 Apr 2019 - Rate hike for the TEM and FIB  - The transfer of the management of the TEM and FIB from WATLab to QNC Clean Room by UW central administration has resulted in rate increases for the tool-time to $50/h (from $40/h) for the TEM and to $100/h (from $60/h) for the FIB.  WATLab is still allowed to provide OS service to our users using the new rates for these tools (our staff rate remains unchanged at $40/h) and unfortunately every minute must now be accounted for because of the Badger tool log-in system.  It is important for our users to recognise that WATLab has not increased its rate since inception almost 20 years ago. This rate increase is due to change in management of these tools, as we have to unfortunately pass the cost of using these tools (the new tool-time rate) onto our users.


  15 Feb 2019 - No more recycled SEM stubs in the sample prep area  - Some users appear to be recycling old SEM stubs (with other users' samples on them) found in the sample prep hood in C2-060.  As some of these samples could contain poisonous materials and there is also a real likelihood of cross contamination, we are asking all the users to take their own stubs back to their lab after their SEM session and to safely dispose (or recycle) these stubs in their own lab.  As this is a general safety issue for all users, we ask for your kind cooperation.


Users can buy new SEM stubs and new stub storage boxes online from the www.tedpella.com  [look for standard Zeiss SEM stubs - P/N 16111 or 16111-9 (pin mount 12.7 mm x 3.2 mm)].  Alternatively, WATLab does sell a box of 12 stubs (at $30 each kit) on site. Please contact Nina, Lei or Joseph.




How to become a certified SEM user?  Please follow the FAQ link above or here for more details.  Please contact  Nina  to arrange for SEM training and certification.


Why we don't need a lot of sample for SEM analysis? To our users with powder samples, we wish to remind them that one does not really need tons of samples to do SEM.  Powders should be uniformly spread over a 1 mm x 1 mm area (in a layer a few microns thick) and attached securely onto the carbon tape.  We definitely do not need powders spreading over an area larger than 1 mm x 1 mm and/or in a layer thicker than 10 microns.  Here, we should remember: LESS is MORE, b/c:

(a)  A finely focussed electron beam (<10 nm dia.) hitting any sample (especially the "gassy" ones) at high energy will cause local heating/interaction that leads to rapid gas desorption, which will cause the filament (sitting at the EHT voltage) to arc (the filament will not survive above 5x10-9 mB).  Field-emission filament will not be able to handle a lot of arcings like that, which will shorten its lifetime significantly.  So, the less samples that one uses, the more stable is the machine. 

(b)  Powder samples that are too thick (or not securely attached to the carbon tape) will also lead to partial charging.  This is b/c the electron beam typically penetrates a few microns, creating secondary electrons that are finding their way to the carbon tape.  If the sample is too thick, these secondary electrons stay inside the bulk and the sample will charge up, leading to bad images.  

(c)  More samples in the chamber will lead to a poorer vacuum, and it will take a longer time to pump the system down to the acceptable operating vacuum condition.  Less gas in the chamber and less gas desorption from the sample (as induced by the high-energy electron impact) will also improve image quality.




Established with funding support from Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Province of Ontario in 1999, WATLab is the first multidisciplinary materials research centre in Canada's Technology Triangle.  WATLab offers a complete toolset for advanced materials research and emerging technology development.  Most of our instrument systems are state-of-the-art and some are unique in Canada, and they include:

  • all areas of microscopy and diffraction [Zeiss Libra 200MC TEM, Zeiss Leo 1530 and UltraPlus FESEMs (with EDX/OIM), FEI Quanta Feg 250 ESEM (with EDX), Zeiss Orion Plus HIM, Omicron VT-STM, DI D3500 Nanoman and Asylum Cypher and BIO-3D AFMs, Olympus LMs; Zeiss Correlative Microscope; Anton Paar SAXS, PANalytical X'pert Pro MRD HR-XRD and MPD Powder XRD] - Contact Nina  for SEM & XRD, SAXS, & LM; Lei or Joseph for AFM, HIM, FIB & TEM.

  • spectromicroscopy and spectroscopy [VGS ESCALab 250 Imaging ESCA, MicroLab 350 Auger Microprobe, IONTOF SIMS-5, PE LS55 PL, PE Lambda 35 &1050 UV-Vis, Bruker Senterra-2 Raman, Bruker Tensor 27 FTIR, Bruker Hyperion 3000 FTIR Microscope] - Contact Joseph for ESCA & SIMS; Lei for Auger; Nina for correlative spectroscopies

  • bulk characterization [QD Dynacool PPMS, QD SQUID-VSM MPMS] - Contact Joseph;

  • lithography and nanomachining [Nabity and Fibics EBLs, Raith IBL, IMP Xpress Maskless OL, Zeiss Auriga FIB-SEM, DI Nanoman NL, Fibics NPVE] - Contact Joseph or Lei ;

  • wet and dry materials synthesis (all areas); and

  • rapid device prototyping (all areas). 

We offer pay-per-use service for both academic and industrial users at competitive rates, with our expert operators providing sample characterization measurement (and analysis).  For a selected number of tools (e.g. SEM), we also provide training to allow the users to access the tools through a self-serve booking system. 

To submit samples for analysis, please fill in Form A (and Form B for University of Waterloo users) above, and contact the respective technical specialists.  For all other enquiries and guided lab tours, please contact manager .


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