Nanobot Frequently Asked Questions

What types of SEM and FIB tool can accommodate the NanoBot system?

The NanoBot System is designed for use inside any scanning electron microscope (SEM) or focused ion beam (FIB) tool that is equipped with a door assembly which provides access to the vacuum chamber. This includes virtually all full size SEMs and FIBs in use today


What kind of bracket is needed to mount a NanoBot system?

The exact design of the bracket typically depends on the specific model of SEM or FIB. Xidex includes whatever bracketing is needed in the standard base price of the system and will make whatever adjustments may be needed to fit specific tools.


Where can a NanoBot system be mounted in a SEM or FIB?

The NanoBot system can generally be mounted on either the door assembly, the stage, or the chamber wall. Most of our customers chose to mount the NanoBot system on the door assembly because this option frees the microscope stage to provide additional degrees of freedom.

Can the NanoBot system work in air?

Yes. The NanoBot system also works in air and can be used with optical microscopes.

Is the NanoBot system UHV compatible?

The NanoBot system works well below the pressures encountered in ordinary SEM operation (i.e., 10-6 to 10-7 Torr). Some customization of the system is required for UHV operation.

What software comes with the NanoBot system?

A library of LabVIEW™ based applications, called Actions™, for mechanical and electrical probing and other useful procedures is installed on a laptop computer or PC running Windows, provided with the system. Additional Actions are provided with grippers, force sensors and other options such as the Parallel Multi-Precursor Gas Delivery system. The software provided with the NanoBot system also includes a “ToolBox,” which is a scripting environment that lets a user call any of the LabVIEW Actions that have already been written and combine them in new ways to accomplish new tasks.

Can users write their own customized software applications for the NanoBot system?

Yes. User programmability is an important distinguishing feature of the NanoBot system. As noted just above, the ToolBox lets a user call any of the LabVIEW Actions that have already been written and combine them in new ways to accomplish new tasks. Users who are familiar with the LabVIEW Full Development System can use it to create their own custom Actions. Such user-created Actions can be added to the Actions library and either used as stand-alone applications or called and combined with other Actions using the ToolBox. An evaluation version of the LabVIEW Full Development System is provided with the NanoBot system. Users who want to continue creating their own custom NanoBot Actions need to acquire the LabVIEW Full Development System from National Instruments.

What initial installation and training are provided with the NanoBot system?

We generally allow one day for installation and training. Typically, our applications engineers will have made at least one visit to the customer’s site prior to initial installation, so all required bracketing, cabling and vacuum port adapters will be ready to install. The process consists of installing a vacuum port adapter (typically one KF40 port for electrical feedthrough), installing vacuum-side and air-side cables, installing the mounting bracket and the NanoBot system, closing the door assembly, followed by pump down, finding a convenient location for the compact desktop control unit, connecting the laptop or PC provided with the system, plugging in the joystick, turning on the power and starting the software. The remainder of the installation and training is devoted to going over all operational features of the system, answering questions and conducting practice demonstrations.

Can the user reinstall and remove the NanoBot system?

Yes. The system can be installed or removed in two to three minutes, exclusive of SEM or FIB pump down time. Installation involves opening the door assembly, attaching the system with standard fasteners (typically two to four socket head cap screws), plugging in the electrical connections, and reclosing the door assembly. The same steps are reversed for routing removal.

How long does it take a user to do routine installation and removal of the NanoBot system?

The system can be installed or removed in two to three minutes, exclusive of SEM or FIB pump down time. Installation involves opening the door assembly, attaching the system with standard fasteners (typically two to four socket head cap screws), plugging in the electrical connections, and reclosing the door assembly. The same steps are reversed for routing removal.

Can the NanoBot system be moved from one SEM or FIB to another?

Yes. Both tools need to be provided with mounting brackets that accommodate the NanoBot system. If the system is going to be moved back and forth frequency then both tools should also be provided with their own sets of vacuum and air-side cables so that the vacuum feedthrough port does not also need to be removed repeatedly.

How much space does the NanoBot take inside the SEM or FIB?

The NanoBot Model NX-1000, which has one XYZ nanopositioner, has a 46 x 46 mm footprint and is 70 mm high. The NanoBot Model NX-2000, which has two XYZ nanopositioners, has a 101 x 46 mm footprint and is 70 mm high. Effector booms extend beyond the footprint in order to position a probe tip or other end effector under or near the electron or ion beam. NanoBot systems with three and four XYZ nanopositioners are configured by combining NX-1000 and NX-2000 mounting platforms or by providing specialized mounting platforms as needed.

How much lab space does the NanoBot system take?

The system is extremely compact. External components consist of a desktop control module (12” wide by 16” long by 9” high), a joystick and a computer, which can be either a laptop or PC.

What comes with the NanoBot system?

The product package includes the nanomanipulator, vacuum feedthrough, mounting bracket adjustable to fit your SEM or FIB, low-noise coaxial/triaxial electrical cables, a compact desk top control module, holders for mounting sharp metal probes and AFM tips, a joystick, and the LabVIEW user interface already installed on a laptop computer running Windows OS.

What additional equipment is needed for electrical characterization of nanomaterials and devices?

A low noise current/voltage source connected via a USB port to a laptop computer controlled by the NanoBot system is needed for electrical characterization of nanomaterials and devices.

Is any other additional equipment needed?

We recommend installation of the Evactron® plasma cleaning system manufactured by XEI Scientific, which can remove hydrocarbon contamination from vacuum chambers such as SEMs.

What sizes of sharp metal probe can the NanoBot system hold?

The standard holder for sharp metal probes incorporates a spring loaded socket that accommodates 0.5 mm diameter probes. Smaller probes with 75 - 250 μm diameter can be inserted into a 0.5 mm diameter probe tube holder provided with the system.

Can AFM tips be used with the NanoBot system?

Yes. A holder is provided for mounting AFM tips. The handle chip of the AFM tip can be manually attached to the holder using SEM tape or carbon dag.

How much load can the NanoBot system carry?

The NanoBot supports dynamic loads up to 2 N and static loads > 2 N. Stiffness on the order of 106 N/m enables the NanoBot to supports end effectors which require both high stiffness and high load capacity.

What type connection is provided for sharp metal electrical probes?

The spring loaded socket for sharp metal probes is attached to a triaxial electrical cable that connects at the other end to the vacuum side of the feedthrough. A coaxial cable connects the air side of feedthrough connects to the current or voltage source being used with the system.

What electrical power needs to be provided to run the NanoBot system?

The system operates on 50/60 Hz electrical power at100-240 VAC, which is specified prior to installation. We recommend that the NanoBot system be plugged into the SEM power bus to minimize electrical noise.

How many joysticks and controllers are needed to run a NanoBot system with multiple XYZ nanopositioners?

One desktop control module, joystick and laptop or PC can run up to four independent NanoBot XYZ nanopositioners. Operation is handed off from one nanopositioner to another by using a toggle switch on the joystick, or by selecting the particular nanopositioner unit using the graphical interface.

What is the range and speed of motion?

In its Multi-Step mode the NanoBot nanopositioner can travel up to 15 mm in X, Y, and Z at speeds up to 1 mm/sec. Single-Step mode is adjustable from 100 nm to 2 µm. In Fine Motion mode, the NanoBot travels in a continuous range up to 3.5 µm with respect to its parked position in X, Y or Z with <1 nm resolution. Simultaneous XYZ travel is enabled in the Multi-Step, Single-Step and Fine-Motion modes.

How does the NanoBot system achieve such large range of motion and still have sub nanometer resolution?

The nanopositioners provided with the NanoBot system are based on the inertial drive principle, which makes it possible to achieve both long range motion and sub-nanometer resolution. Each NanoBot stage incorporates a piezoelectric actuator, a bearing and a driven mass. The piezo first expands, carrying the bearing along with it. The driven mass moves forward with the advancing bearing due to static friction. The piezo then contracts quickly, exceeding the static friction limit, thus allowing the bearing to slide with respect to the driven mass. The piezo can expand and contract repeatedly, creating a sawtooth pattern. The resulting net forward motion enables the NanoBot system’s Multi Step Mode. The direction of Multi Step travel is changed by reversing the sawtooth pattern. Using just one sawtooth moves the driven mass forward (or backward) one step, enabling the NanoBot system’s Single Step Mode. Slow expansion and contraction of the piezo causes the driven mass to move with it, remaining attached by static friction. This enables the NanoBot system's Fine Motion Mode.

How much does the NanoBot system drift?

Drift associated with the NanoBot system itself is less than 1 nm/minute. However, other factors in the SEM environment can also affect drift.

How much electrical noise is associated with the NanoBot system?

With standard cabling provided with the system the electrical noise is less than10 pA, which is adequate for all but the most demanding applications. A low noise option is provided for users who need less than 200 fA of electrical noise.

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What are the prices of the NanoBot system and the other options, such as the Parallel-MGPD system?

Please contact us using the Information Request or Sales tab. We will be pleased to discuss pricing of an affordable system that meets your needs.


Support is provided by US-based Xidex Corporation, located in Austin, TX, the team that builds the NanoBot system.