Initial Publication Date: May 20, 2021

NanoEarth FEI Helios 600 NanoLab at Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech

Contact Information

NanoEarth (National Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology Infrastructure)




Instrument Type

FEI Helios 600 NanoLab

  • Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)
  • Focused Ion Beam (FIB)

The FEI Helios 600 NanoLab is a dual-beam workstation that combines a high-resolution SEM and a focused ion beam. It is used to dissect or deposit material at a micro- to nano-meter size scale. The instrument is capable of nanoscale lithography, deposition, and tomography, and it has a manipulator for precisely probing, straining, picking up and placing nanometer sized objects cut from or deposited on a larger samples. It is equipped with an integrated Energy Dispersive Spectrometer (EDS) and Electron Backscatter Diffration (EBSD) package for gathering chemical, spatial orientation, and strain state information. When this package is coordinated with material removal via the ion beam, it is possible to create 3-dimensional reconstructions of the internal structure, chemistry, orientation, and strain state in objects a few nanometers in size. Samples can be studied and handled from room temperature down to cryogenic temperatures.

The NCFL's Helios 600 NanoLab is equipped with:

  • an Omniprobe 200.2
  • a 3-nozzle gas injection system with gases for platinum deposition, insulaotor enhanced etching, and selective carbon milling – automated focussed-ion beam milling
  • a TEM sample preparation kit
  • a STEM detector
  • Pegasus XM 4 Integrated EDS and EBSD (Genesis EDS x-ray microanalysis system and Hikari camera for EBSD) with integrated 3D OIM automated data aquisition and batch processing software
  • Evactron plasma cleaner and cryo-can
  • a lithography package (for electron- or ion-beam lithography) with an electrostatic beam blanker and Nabity pattern generation system
  • a Quorum cryo-transfer system
  • Amira software license
  • a 52-pin electrical feedthrough for custom experiments


  • Signals Detected: Electrons, secondary ions, X-rays, light (Cathodoluminescence)
  • Imaging/Mapping: Yes
  • Lateral Resolution/Probe Size: 7 nm (ion beam); 20 nm (electron beam)

More information and resources for Focused Ion Beam are available on NanoEarth's website.


Applications include:

  • Identification of phases
  • Composition (elemental) of phases
  • Elemental mapping, compositional zoning
  • Imaging (size, shape, morphology)
  • Crystallographic orientation
  • Interfaces

Typical Use:

Dual beam FIB-SEM is a workstation that combines a scanning electron microscope (SEM) and a focused ion beam (FIB); it is heavily used for site-specific analysis. For example, SEM delivers high resolution images, while FIB is mostly used to add and subtract micro volumes of material in a controlled manner, like a nanomachining device. Coupled to an Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDS) detector and Electron Backscattered diffraction (EBSD) camera, dual beam FIB-SEM provides elemental identification and crystallographic properties from the cross-section of the sample. With serial slicing technique, structural, chemical and crystallographic information can be revealed in three dimensions.

Conditions for Use:

  • Submitted samples will be analyzed on a contract basis (i.e. lab personnel will do the work)
  • Visitors are invited to work in the lab to work with lab personnel
  • Visitors are invited to work in the lab to design and do the work yourself
  • Users who wish to use an NCFL instrument without the supervision of an NCFL instrument specialists must complete the appropriate Training Sessions and become an approved operator. Training Sessions cover instrument operation and safety procedures as well as techniques for obtaining useful information. Training sessions are scheduled by appointment with an instrument specialist and include charges for the instrument and staff time. The total time needed for an individual to show competence on the instrument will be determined by the Instrument Specialist.

User Fees:

Current instrument rates available online: ( This site may be offline. )

Instrument Priorities:

Remote Use:

Remote operation is not possible.

Sample Preparation:

Sample preparation is dependent on the specific sample and can be discussed with an instrumentation specialist.

Standard Collections/Lab Blanks:


Educational Use:

NanoEarth loves to host groups for demonstrations, workshops, tours, and other educational uses of the lab. Please contact to discuss opportunities.

  • Class demonstrations are available for undergraduates
  • Class demonstrations are available for K-12
  • Undergraduate student research projects are invited
  • Graduate student research projects are invited
  • Tutorials and other educational materials related to the lab are available

Support provided by:

The NCFL receives support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) program. NSF support is vital to maintain the high quality of our facility and we strongly ask that you acknowledge their contribution in your publications and presentations that result, in full or part, from using our facilities.

In the case of regular users:

This work was performed in part at the Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Laboratory, which is supported by the Virginia Tech National Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology Infrastructure (NanoEarth), a member of the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI), supported by NSF (ECCS 1542100 and ECCS 2025151).

In the case of users who received financial support (e.g., mini-grants, MUNI):

This work was supported by the Nanoscale Characterization and Fabrication Laboratory and the Virginia Tech National Center for Earth and Environmental Nanotechnology Infrastructure (NanoEarth), a member of the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI), supported by NSF (ECCS 1542100 and ECCS 2025151).