Kuwait University

Cross Section Polisher
JEOL SM – 09010

Principle and Procedure:

The JEOL Cross Section Polisher (CP) consists of:

  • Specimen chamber with a turbo pump vacuum system.
  • An optical microscope for specimen positioning.
  • Controls for the vacuum system.
  • Stationary ion beam


  • The specimen stage in the chamber features a holder and shield plate. To produce a cross section using the CP, the specimen is placed in the holder, and the region of the sample to be cross-sectioned is selected under the optical microscope.
  •  After evacuating the specimen chamber, a broad argon ion beam irradiates the surface of the specimen partially masked by a shielding plate. Thus, the region that is not masked by the shielding plate is etched.
  • During milling, the specimen stage can be automatically rocked ± 30o to prevent beam striations and insure uniform etching of composite materials with differ­ent hardness, preventing the soft portions from being cut faster than the hard portions.

Features of CP:

  • JEOL SM – 09010 Cross Section Polisher offers high quality cross sections of soft and hard materials.
  • Minimum strain and distortion of the polished surface, enabling one to observe grain contrast clearly and easily.
  • Large cross section areas are obtained compared to Focused-Ion-Beam (FIB) methods, where a single CP polish is typically 1.5 mm wide and several hundreds of microns deep.
  • No particle embedding in the polished surface as compared to mechanical polishing.
  • Minimal damage with argon.
  • Low running cost.
  • Ease of operation.
  • No waste water or chemical, friendly to environment.

Specification of CP:

  • Ion accelerating Voltage: 2 to 6 KV.
  • Ion beam width: 500 µm at accelerating voltage of 6 KV.
  •  Polishing speed: 1.3 µm/ min or more. (at accelerating voltage of 6 KV, 100 µm from edge).
  • Maximum specimen size: 11 mm (W) x 10 mm (L) x 2 mm (T).
  • Specimen movement range: ± mm     (X – axis) ± mm (Y – axis).
  • Specimen tilt range: ± 5°
  • Gas for polishing: Argon.
  • Pressure gauge: Penning type.
  • Main evacuation pump: (TMP) Turbo – Molecular Pump.
  • Instrument dimensions: 380 mm (W) x 570 mm (D) x 520 mm (H).

Material Application
Gold Wire Bond

Figure(A) shows the backscattered electron image of a cross section of gold wire bonding on a silicon integrated circuit prepared with the CP. In spite of the large differences in hardness between all the materials, including silicon, aluminum, and gold, the cross section is very high quality. The results reveal failure at the bonding layers as narrow cracks and small voids are clearly observed in figure (B).

Galvanized Coating
Figure (A) shows an overview of a specimen of galvanized coating on steel prepared using the CP. The processing conditions typically affect the adhesion properties of such a coating. Therefore it is crucial to preserve the integrity of the interface layer. The CP preparation provides a unique insight into coating technology while preserving the structural integrity of the metal interface. Figure (B) shows the Zn-Al-Si eutectic in the coating.

Thin Film Analysis
Cross-sectional observation is critical for thin film manufacturing for determination of adhesion properties of thin film; however, typical mechanical sample preparation often smears the interface layers and makes such observations somewhat ambiguous. In Figures (A) and (B) present a backscattered image and corresponding EBSD pattern from a metal thin film on glass. The images clearly show differences in the layer structure of the film. The CP preparation facilitates easy and straightforward EBSD pattern acquisition due to minimal surface strain and distortion.

Fiber Optics
Fiber optic cable specimens are difficult to prepare via traditional methods due to differences in hardness between the layers of thermoplastic polymer cladding and the thin polymer/glass multilayers comprising the overall structure. As presented in the figure, the Cross Section Polisher allows easy sample preparation, and SEM observation and measurement of layer uniformity and thickness.