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SEM: FEI Nova NanoSEM 450 Scanning Electron Microscope

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The FEI Nova NanoSEM line of SEMs provides high-quality nanoscale research tools for a variety of applications that involve sample characterization, analysis, nanoprototyping, and S/TEM sample preparation. More samples, including the most non-conducting or contaminating materials, can equally be characterized or analyzed in the Nova NanoSEM 50 series, using its unique low vacuum capabilities. Characterization in low vacuum extends all the way up to ultra-high resolution, thanks to FEI's Helix detector technology. Small and large samples can easily be accommodated inside the large chamber, on the Nova NanoSEM's high precision, high stability stages. In addition, a high definition camera and a correlative navigation unit help to find and move to the right region of interest in no time. The Nova NanoSEM 450's sample stage features a 100 x 100 mm range of movement with holders for small pieces up to 4 inch wafers.

Pattern generation with the Nova NanoSEM has been decommissioned and is no longer available. For electron-beam lithography options, please refer to the EBL: Overview page. For nanoprototyping, the Nova NanoSEM 50 series offers the most extensive set of integrated tools, including a 16-bit on-board digital pattern generator and dedicated patterning software, a high speed electrostatic beam blanker and gas injection systems for direct electron beam writing of nanostructures.

Research Examples

Photonic crystal laser with 276 nm wide electrode. Image courtesy taken from Altamash Janjua, PhD thesis (2012). - Prof. Harris Group, Stanford

Getting Started and Training Information

In order to become a qualified user of the FEI Nova NanoSEM, you need to follow each of these steps in the order as listed here:

  1. Complete the process to become a lab member of SNSF and follow the instructions to activate a Badger account.
  2. Complete the process to become a Nanopatterning Cleanroom user.
  3. Review the material in the Resources section below and in the online SEM edX course, from Nano@Stanford. The SEM module is located under Microscopy. Note: Do not take the quiz in the module, take the quiz for NPC in the link below.
  4. Pass (80%) and complete the NovaSEM Review Quiz and New User Intake Form. An email is automatically sent to staff once you have completed the form.
  5. Staff will reach out to schedule a one-on-one in-person training session.
    • Basic training is typically a single 2-hour session. If necessary, staff may recommend a second supervised session before qualifying the user. It is encouraged to bring your own sample to image during the training, but not required.
    • Additional assistance or further training can be requested by emailing staff. 

Auto-disqualification: Badger will auto-disqualify you on the FEI Nova NanoSEM if you do not use it in a 2 year period. This is to keep an up-to-date record of active, qualified users on the FEI Nova NanoSEM in Badger. To get re-qualified (re-training not necessarily required), please email


SEM specific to SNSF Nanopatterning Cleanroom: 
Nova NanoSEM - Standard Operating Procedure 
Nova NanoSEM - Quick Guide 
Nova NanoSEM - Troubleshooting Guide 
FEI Best Practices - Stage Bias / Beam Deceleration 
FEI Application Note - Concentric BackScatter Detector (CBS)

Online SEM edX course, from Nano@Stanford. The SEM module is located under Microscopy. Note: Do not take the quiz in the module, take the quiz for NPC in the link above.

MyScope: Scanning Electron Microscopy
Select the Scanning Electron Microscope icon. The Practical tab has an SEM simulator you can try.