Ronald Vane1, Barbara Armbruster1, Michael Cable1, Ewa Kosmowska1 and George Safar1

1. XEI Scientific, Inc., Redwood City, CA, USA

XEI Scientific invented the Evactron De-Contaminator, a practical plasma cleaning system for Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEMs) in 1999 that could be mounted on the chamber to clean in situ. Plasma cleaners have now become a standard accessory to quickly and effectively remove hydrocarbons from vacuum chambers and specimens. Eliminating hydrocarbons prevents contamination artifacts such as black squares, scan deposits, and carbon peaks in EDS spectra. The Evactron plasma radical source uses a unique RF hollow cathode to create a low-temperature RF plasma in a vacuum that is able to make oxygen radicals from air. These radicals (oxygen atoms) gently combine with hydrocarbons in the vacuum chamber to form CO and H2O gases that are removed by viscous flow to the vacuum pump.

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