Sun, J., Luo, Xichun, Ritchie, J. and Hrncir, T. (2012) A predictive divergence compensation approach for the fabrication of three-dimensional microstructures using focused ion beam machining. Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part B: Journal of Engineering Manufacture, 226 (2). pp. 229-238. ISSN 0954-4054

In this paper, the major factors which cause fabrication divergence in the focused ion beam (FIB) milling process are discussed. A divergence compensation approach is outlined which calculates the corrected dwell time in order to allow for the divergence caused by the FIB milling process; this is due to overlap effects and the angular-dependent sputter yield. A multi-pass scanning method is used to reduce the fabrication divergence precipitated by atom redeposition. Microstructures, such as parabolic, hemispherical and sinusoidal shapes and a nano hemispherical structure have been produced during the FIB milling experiments using conventional bitmap milling and proposed divergence compensation approaches. A flat top/bottom surface is obtained in convex/concave structures when using the conventional bitmap FIB milling approach. Further research shows that the reasons for this phenomenon are mainly related to both the aspect ratio of the structures and the existence of an oxide layer on the substrate surface. The flat top/bottom phenomenon can be removed by using the combination of a novel divergence compensation approach and the removal of the oxide layer from the substrate surface prior to FIB machining. The experimental results show that the surface form accuracy has been greatly improved by using this method and the overlap effect can be suppressed by carefully choosing the normalized pixel spacing.