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Focused Ion Beam (FIB) Microscopy

The SEM was used to collect this image of a hole created in a Daguerreotype by a finely focused beam of liquid metal ions. Unlike lightweight electrons, metal ions are hundreds of times more massive, and when they get accelerated to high energies they break bonds and excavate material digging a pit. This process is similar to a backhoe removing Earth from the ground but the unaided human eye can’t see these holes.

Click to see a series FIB images at progressively higher magnification.

Open Daguerreotype
Focused Ion Beam Milling Trench