Imago Scientific Instruments Corporation: Researchers Establish Leap Atom Probe as Unique Tool for Analyzing Semiconductor Nanostructures


Megan Fellman (Northwestern University)
(847) 491-3115

Deb Mohr (Imago Scientific Instruments)
(608) 274-6880

February 15, 2006 – Semiconducting nanowires show great promise for various emerging device technologies including high-performance transistors, single molecule sensors, and nanoscale lasers. The continued advancement of these nanometer-scale devices depends critically on knowledge of their atomic-scale structure because compositional fluctuations as small as a single dopant atom can affect device performance.

In a significant breakthrough, featured on the cover of this month’s Nano Letters, researchers at Northwestern University have announced that a new class of atom probe, the local electrode atom probe (LEAP®) microscope was used to map the position of single Au atoms in an InAs nanowire and to image the interface between a Au catalyst and InAs nanowire in three dimensions with 0.3-nm resolution.

“We are proud that the LEAP has been used by Northwestern University to provide critical information linking nanostructure synthesis schemes and nanoscale composition,” said Imago President and CEO Timothy Stultz. “Imago’s LEAP 3000 Metrology System is the only instrument of its kind capable of providing the comprehensive, three-dimensional, micro-structural data required by the world-class Northwestern University researchers to advance nanostructure science.”

“LEAP microscopy promises to advance material science by extending our understanding of structure-property relationships to the nanoscale limit,” said Lincoln J. Lauhon, assistant professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern.

“We now can conduct certain experiments that would be impossible without the LEAP microscope,” said David N. Seidman, Walter P. Murphy Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, who spearheaded the effort to bring a LEAP microscope to Northwestern, the first university in the country to secure one. The University’s LEAP microscope, which became operational in January 2005 and is housed in the Northwestern University Center for Atom-Probe Tomography (NUCAPT) in William A. and Gayle Cook Hall, has attracted faculty, post-doctoral fellows, and graduate students working on problems ranging from semiconductor nanowires for use in new nanotechnologies to stronger and energy efficient aluminum alloys for use at high temperatures, with applications in the airline and automotive industries. Materials that can be studied using the LEAP microscope include semiconductors, metal alloys containing ceramic particles, and conducting polymers. Northwestern University offers a contract measurement service which enables industrial and academic researchers throughout the world to access the unique LEAP technology.

About Imago Scientific Instruments Corporation
Imago Scientific Instruments Corporation is the recognized world leader in the development of Nanolytical® tools and solutions for manufacturers, engineers, scientists, and researchers involved in the nano-technology revolution. Imago is committed to the sustained advancement of nano-science and continually develops groundbreaking nano-scale solutions to address unique issues facing its clients and partners. Imago has a worldwide customer base and delivers support from a number of locations in the United States, Japan, and Asia Pacific. For more information, see

About Northwestern University Center for Atom Probe Tomography
Further information on NUCAPT is available at