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Ultramicroscopy. 2005 Sep;104(2):152-9. Epub 2005 Apr 18.

Active pixel sensor array as a detector for electron microscopy.

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University of California at San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr., La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


A new high-resolution recording device for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) is urgently needed. Neither film nor CCD cameras are systems that allow for efficient 3-D high-resolution particle reconstruction. We tested an active pixel sensor (APS) array as a replacement device at 200, 300, and 400 keV using a JEOL JEM-2000 FX II and a JEM-4000 EX electron microscope. For this experiment, we used an APS prototype with an area of 64 x 64 pixels of 20 microm x 20 microm pixel pitch. Single-electron events were measured by using very low beam intensity. The histogram of the incident electron energy deposited in the sensor shows a Landau distribution at low energies, as well as unexpected events at higher absorbed energies. After careful study, we concluded that backscattering in the silicon substrate and re-entering the sensitive epitaxial layer a second time with much lower speed caused the unexpected events. Exhaustive simulation experiments confirmed the existence of these back-scattered electrons. For the APS to be usable, the back-scattered electron events must be eliminated, perhaps by thinning the substrate to less than 30 microm. By using experimental data taken with an APS chip with a standard silicon substrate (300 microm) and adjusting the results to take into account the effect of a thinned silicon substrate (30 microm), we found an estimate of the signal-to-noise ratio for a back-thinned detector in the energy range of 200-400 keV was about 10:1 and an estimate for the spatial resolution was about 10 microm.

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