DOE Funds Xidex to Make Carbon Nanotube Sources for SEMs and TEMs

Xidex Corporation, an Austin-based nanotechnology company, has been awarded a new contract from the Department of Energy (DOE) for scaleable manufacturing of carbon nanotube (CNT) based field emission sources for use in scanning electron beam instruments such as scanning electron microscopes (SEMs) and transmission electron microscopes (TEMs).

The project is aimed at significant improvement in the imaging resolution, signal-to-noise ratio, and processing speed of SEMs and TEMs used in materials science, biotechnology, forensics, medical research, the semiconductor industry, and the emerging nanotechnology industry.

Vladimir Mancevski, Xidex's Chief Technology Officer, said, "We plan to manufacture CNT field emitters on metal substrates that can be integrated into SEM and TEM electron guns. The company plans to demonstrate a scaleable production processes for making the CNT emitters. We will be measuring key figures-of-merit and evaluating emitter performance in a commercial scanning electron beam instrument."

Paul McClure, Xidex's President and CEO, said, "CNT emitters directly address a long standing problem in the field of electron microscopy. Electron optical columns have improved significantly in the last 15 years, but the field emission source itself has basically not changed. Our carbon nanotube based source represents a new possibility for a breakthrough. This project will have a huge impact on all areas of electron microscopy."

Xidex's academic collaborators include Dr. Keith Stevenson in The University of Texas at Austin's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Dr. John Markert in UT Austin's Department of Physics. Scanservice Corporation, a leading SEM equipment sales, installation and service company based in Tustin, California, will assist by testing Xidex's emitters in a commercial SEM.

International SEMATECH, whose member companies make up 50 percent of the worldwide chip market, has offered to facilitate working relationships between Xidex and the leading SEM and TEM suppliers. Dr. David Joy, Distinguished Scientist in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, The University of Tennessee at Knoxville will provide consulting support related to emitter design and interpretation of test results.

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