High Vacuum Sputter Coater

Leica EM ACE600

Model: Leica EM ACE600

Room number:  075 Whitaker Hall

Description:  The EM ACE600 sputter coater is a versatile high vacuum gold and carbon film deposition instrument for the SEM and TEM sample analysis applications.


  • The coating methods sputtering, carbon thread, carbon rod, and e-beam evaporation
  • Up to two methods can be used at the same time on the same instrument.
  • Perform glow discharge. This gives the flexibility to choose the best methods for individual applications.
  • This is realized with angled sources attached to a metal vacuum chamber and
  • A rotating stage to allow evenly distributed films on a stage size over 100mm.
  • Precisely measured and stable parameters are the key to reproducible performance.
  • The fully automated coating process ensures that the conditions are the same for each run. Besides that, the operation of the instrument is straightforward.

Typical uses:

  • Ultra-thin carbon films
    • Carbon coating has multiple applications for electron microscopy. It is conductive but invisible to the electron beam and has no grain structure.
    • It can be only a thin film on a section for a TEM analysis or adding some conductivity for SEM imaging
    • Many samples require carbon films on the TEM grid to be processed.
    • The film has to be as thin as possible, robust, and stable.
    • With the adaptive pulsed carbon thread method, it produced thin films that can even be baked out for the reduction of contamination.
  • Make the smallest features visible
    • To see nm-scaled structures, such as proteins or DNA strands, a special coating is required.
    • By coating with a low angle, it created a visible shadow. To achieve this, the coating has to be directional, fine-grained, and at a precise one-digit angle.
    • The e-beam source together with a motorized 3-axis movable stage provides all those features.
  • Protection for the samples
    • The often fragile, precious EM samples, which were prepared in many steps and hours beforehand, need protection from the analyzing electron beam.
    • A gold coating will protect it from beam damage. The goal is, as thin as possible to not cover interesting features but give sufficient protection, enhancement of the signal, and conductivity.
    • The sample needs to be protected from heat, resulting from the coating process itself. They optimized all coating methods provided by the ACE600 to transfer no heat to the sample.
    • The adaptive pulsed carbon thread method heats the carbon thread only for an instant of time, the sputtering process works with a magnetic field, so less power is needed to release target atoms, and e-beam evaporation works with a shutter and aperture system to shield the sample from the glowing filament.