|This research project is part of the Condor project. The Condor project is a joint endeavor of a consortium of industrial and academic partners with the Embedded Systems Institute (ESI) having the Project Management responsibility. The carrying industrial partner is FEI Company, a world-leading supplier of tools for nanotechnology. Academic partners are Delft University of Technology, Eindhoven University of Technology, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, University of Antwerp, whereas Technolution provides industrial software expertise. The Condor project aims for a transformation of the traditional electron microscope from a qualitative imaging instrument into a flexible quantitative nano-measurement tool, allowing automated procedures for calibrated, reproducible, precise measurements. The project is partly funded by the Dutch Government and started in February 2007.
The electron microscope is one of the few instruments that are able to image, measure and characterize individual structures on the nano-scale. It is a complex physical system composed of various embedded subsystems, such as the electron optical column (including electron sources, electronics, etc.), stage, detection and imaging system, additional detectors, vacuum system and general subsystems for electrical power and control. In the Condor project, multi-disciplinary models are to be developed that sufficiently capture the physical phenomena (and external disturbances) governing the behavior and performance of the electron microscope system and its constituting subsystems. This includes validation and calibration of these models. Using the behavior knowledge captured in the above mentioned models, and incorporating existing or newly developed techniques in the domains of measurement, parameter estimation, image analysis, image processing, experimental design, feed-forward and feedback control, the Condor project will aim for a transformation of the traditional microscope from a qualitative imaging instrument (with image quality as the key quality parameter) into a flexible quantitative nano-measurement tool, allowing automated procedures for calibrated, reproducible measurements (with accuracy and precision as key quality parameters). Problem-oriented research cases are selected to focus the research in such a way that particular system functionalities, such as focusing and calibration, will be dealt with and various critical design and implementation issues will show up. A challenging target is the development of a model-based auto-tuning method, enabling adaptive adjustment of the settings of the microscopes column so as to meet pre-specified requirements for various functionalities. Although traditional microscopes are very image-centric, additional sensors may be introduced to realize and improve these functionalities. Functionalities that will be focused on are calibrated measurement of nanometer-sized particles using a transmission electron microscopy (TEM) instrument and focus and stigmation correction in both scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) instruments. To assess (and control) the actual systems performance for a given functionality, a set of parameters has to be derived from the image content or additional sensors in the system.