Advanced Instrumentation for Nano-Analytics

The "Advanced Instrumentation for Nano-Analytics" (AINA) group focuses on the development of scientific instruments based on charged particle beams and laser beams and correlative workflows taking advantage of these instruments. The group’s R&D activity covers fundamental investigations, instrument development and application development. The targeted fields of application of the instrumentation and methodologies developed by AINA are:

  • nano-imaging
  • nano-analysis
  • in-situ process control for nano-fabrication
  • neutral gas, plasma & liquid flow diagnostics

Our research activities are performed in cooperation with leading international instrument manufacturers and with research groups specialized in the relevant fields.

Main expertise fields

Research challenges

The development of innovative characterization tools is of paramount importance to advance the frontiers of materials science. Due to the ever-increasing complexity of devices and continuously shrinking geometries in materials science and engineering, the characterization tools and techniques are facing new challenges and need to anticipate future trends:

  • The development of new hardware to improve following aspects of nano-analytics:
                - Lateral resolution
                - Sensitivity
                - Throughput
                - Automation
  • The development of correlative workflows to maximize information by combining results from different, complementary techniques
  • The development of new algorithms and software to deal with the increasing complexity of data and to prepare for automation of data treatment
  • The aforementioned developments need to be applicable to the fields of:
                - materials science
                - life sciences
                - and beyond

Application areas

Main assets

  • Experienced and multidisciplinary team
  • Expertise covering the full spectrum required to turn innovative concepts and ideas into prototype instruments
  • Long-term collaborations with world-leading instrument manufacturers
  • Strong patent portfolio in the fields of focus


  • 2 Zeiss ORION NanoFab HIM equipped with in-house developed SIMS, STIM, etc.
  • 1 Thermo Fisher Scios DualBeam equipped with in-house developed SIMS
  • 1 Thermo Fisher Tecnai F20 TEM equipped with in-house developed SIMS
  • 2 Prototype MS for field-portable and space applications
  • 1 SIMS for fundamental studies and component testing (CMS)
  • 1 in house build He-STIM microscope for ion transmission studies (Galileo)
  • 4 Test benches for charged particle optics instrumentation
  • 1 specialised glove box for cryo preparation and sample transfer purposes
  • 1 prototype coherent Rayleigh Brillouin scattering laser (2.5 J/pulse, 10GHz chirp rate)
  • 1 Continuum Powerlite (1.8J @1064 nm, 1.1J @532nm)
  • 1 Sirah Precision scan (200-900nm)
  • 1 Toptica FemtoFibre ultra 1050

Review papers and book chapters

  • Audinot J.-N.; Philipp P.; De Castro O.; Biesemeier A.; Hoang Q. H.; Wirtz T. Highest resolution chemical imaging based on secondary ion mass spectrometry performed on the helium ion microscope. Rep. Prog. Phys. 2021, 84, 105901
    DOI: 10.1088/1361-6633/AC1E32
  • Wirtz, T.; De Castro, O.; Audinot, J.-N.; Philipp, P. Imaging and Analytics on the Helium Ion Microscope. Annu. Rev. Anal. Chem. 2019, 12 (1), 523-543
    DOI: 10.1146/annurev-anchem-061318-115457
  • Eswara, S.; Pshenova, A.; Yedra, L.; Hoang, Q. H.; Lovric, J.; Philipp, P.; Wirtz, T. Correlative Microscopy Combining Transmission Electron Microscopy and Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry: A General Review on the State-of-the-Art, Recent Developments, and Prospects. Appl. Phys. Rev. 2019, 6 (2), 021312.
    DOI: 10.1063/1.5064768
  • Wirtz, T.; Dowsett, D.; Philipp, P. SIMS on the Helium Ion Microscope: A Powerful Tool for High-Resolution High-Sensitivity Nano-Analytics. In Helium Ion Microscopy; Hlawacek, G., Gölzhäuser, A., Eds.; Springer International Publishing Switzerland, 2016.
    DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-41990-9_13
  • Wirtz, T.; Philipp, P.; Audinot, J.-N.; Dowsett, D.; Eswara, S. High-Resolution High-Sensitivity Elemental Imaging by Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry: From Traditional 2D and 3D Imaging to Correlative Microscopy. Nanotechnology 2015, 26 (43), 434001.
    DOI: 10.1088/0957-4484/26/43/434001
Research domains
  • Materials

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