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Q&A: Hardware

Q: What actually NanoMaker can control?
It was always my understanding that SEM control is included in NanoMaker? What actually it can drive?
A: Normally NanoMaker controls only deflection system, beam blanker and captures image via our Pattern Generator. This is analogue control. For that, PG is connected to External Scan Interface (the same that usually used by X-ray microanalysis systems) by set of signal cables.

Optionally, NanoMaker can control stage and some other SEM functions (magnification, working distance, acceleration voltage, switching SEM On/Off, brightness&contrast, etc.). That is a programmable control and is possible only for computer controlled SEMs (or motorized stages). For that, we need additional connection from NanoMaker computer to SEM computer (or to stage interface). In the past, the RS-232 interface was widely used for the connection. Now most popular connection is carried out over Ethernet ports. To use such possibility we need to write software driver for NanoMaker. Because there is not any standards in that field, every vendor creates they own protocol. Moreover, these protocols are different for different models of microscopes. And even for the same models of SEMs, but different years of release protocols may vary greatly. They used different programming platform, languages and so on...

For some SEMs we have drivers already and we supply it for free. For other we need to write drivers. But, for the beginning, we need to study protocol, to estimate our real costs and ability.

About beam blanker control. Our PG has TTL level output signal, which connected directly to blanking signal amplifier. Because customer writes that they will get SEM already equipped with beam blanker, it is important to ascertain that level of control signal and impedance match what our PG produces.

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