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JEOL : Patent Issued for Sample Introduction Device and Charged Particle Beam Instrument (USPTO 9318301)

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04/28/2016 | 10:49pm CEST

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Journal of Technology -- A patent by the inventor Kobayashi, Masaaki (Tokyo, JP), filed on November 26, 2014, was published online on April 19, 2016, according to news reporting originating from Alexandria, Virginia, by VerticalNews correspondents.

Patent number 9318301 is assigned to JEOL Ltd. (Tokyo, JP).

The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to a sample introduction device and charged particle beam instrument.

"In a charged particle beam instrument such as a transmission electron microscope, a sample to be observed or analyzed is generally held by a sample holder. The sample held by the sample holder is introduced into the sample holder of the transmission electron microscope by inserting the sample holder into the sample chamber (see, for example, JP-A-8-293278).

"The interior of the sample chamber of the transmission electron microscope is in a vacuum state. Therefore, when a sample holder is inserted into the sample chamber, a force urging the sample holder into the sample chamber is applied to the sample holder due to the pressure difference between the sample chamber and the outside. The force drawing the holder into the chamber is applied to the sample holder and thus the holder is jerked into the sample chamber. This creates the danger that the sample held in the holder will be damaged or the degree of vacuum in the sample chamber will deteriorate. Accordingly, the user must insert the sample holder into the sample chamber while supporting the holder so as to prevent the holder from being pulled into the sample chamber violently."

In addition to the background information obtained for this patent, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent: "The present invention has been made in view of the foregoing problems. One object associated with some aspects of the present invention is to provide a sample introduction device permitting a sample to be introduced into a sample chamber easily. Another object associated with some aspects of the invention is to offer a charged particle beam instrument including this sample introduction device.

"(1) A sample introduction device associated with the present invention is adapted to introduce a sample into a sample chamber of a charged particle beam instrument and has: a pre-evacuation chamber for performing pre-evacuation; a sample holder having a sample holding portion capable of holding the sample; a mechanical drive arrangement for moving the sample holder; and a controller for controlling the mechanical drive arrangement. The controller performs a first operation for controlling the mechanical drive arrangement to move a support member such that the support member provides support of the sample holder when the sample holding portion is in the pre-evacuation chamber and to bring the support member to a halt, a second operation for making a decision as to whether the sample holding portion can be moved into the sample chamber, based on the position at which the support member is halted, and a third operation for controlling the mechanical drive arrangement to move the support member providing support of the sample holder such that the sample holding portion moves from the pre-evacuation chamber into the sample chamber if the decision is affirmative to indicate that the sample holding portion can be moved into the sample chamber.

"In this sample introduction device, it is possible to prevent a sample holder of an inappropriate length from being introduced into the sample chamber; otherwise, components (such as a goniometer and the polepieces of an objective lens) of the charged particle beam instrument would be destroyed or damaged.

"Furthermore, this sample introduction device is configured including a mechanical drive arrangement for moving the support member providing support of the sample holder such that the sample holding portion is moved from the pre-evacuation chamber into the sample chamber. Consequently, the sample can be easily introduced into the sample chamber.

"(2) In one feature of this sample introduction device, the controller may determine that, if the support member is halted in a given position during the first operation, the sample holding portion can be moved into the sample chamber. The controller can determine that, if the support member is not halted in the given position during the first operation, the sample holding portion cannot be moved into the sample chamber.

"In this sample introduction device, it is possible to prevent a sample holder of an inappropriate length from being introduced into the sample chamber.

"(3) In another feature of this sample introduction device, the sample holder may have at least one cutout. The support member may have a fitting portion that is fitted into the cutout when the support member provides support of the sample holder.

"In this sample introduction device, if a sample holder not having such a cutout is used, the support member provides support of the sample holder at a position different from the given position. This can prevent an inappropriate sample holder not having the cutout from being introduced into the sample chamber erroneously.

"(4) In a further feature of this sample introduction device, the at least one cutout of the sample holder may be two in number, and the two cutouts may be arranged symmetrically with respect to the axis of the sample holder.

"In this sample introduction device, the support member allows for balanced support of the sample holder.

"(5) In a still other feature of this sample introduction device, the mechanical drive arrangement may have air cylinders connected to the support member. The controller may bring the support member to a halt in response to the pressure inside the air cylinders during the first operation.

"In this sample introduction device, the sample holder can be supported by the support member under control of the controller.

"(6) In an additional feature of this sample introduction device, the mechanical drive arrangement may have air cylinders connected to the support member. The controller may bring the support member to a halt in response to the flow rate of gas in the air cylinders during the first operation.

"In this sample introduction device, the sample holder can be supported by the support member under control of the controller.

"(7) In a still further feature of this sample introduction device, the mechanical drive arrangement may apply a second force, which is opposite in sense to a first force applied to the sample holder by the pressure difference between the sample chamber and the outside and is smaller than the first force, to the sample holder during the third operation.

"In this sample introduction device, it is possible to prevent the sample holder from being drawn into the sample chamber violently due to the first force applied to the sample holder by the pressure difference between the sample chamber and the outside (atmospheric pressure).

"(8) In an additional feature of this sample introduction device, there may be further provided: a goniometer for rotating the sample holder; and a partition valve for isolating the pre-evacuation chamber and the sample chamber from each other. The controller may further operate to rotate the goniometer to open the partition valve.

"With this sample introduction device, a sample can be easily introduced into the sample chamber.

"(9) In a yet other feature of this sample introduction device, the mechanical drive arrangement may move the sample holder such that the sample holding portion moves from the sample chamber into the pre-evacuation chamber.

"With this sample introduction device, a sample can be easily moved from the sample chamber into the pre-evacuation chamber. Therefore, the sample can be easily taken out of the sample chamber.

"(10) A charged particle beam instrument associated with the present invention includes a sample introduction device associated with the present invention.

"Since this charged particle beam instrument includes the sample introduction device associated with the present invention, the sample can be easily introduced into the sample chamber."

URL and more information on this patent, see: Kobayashi, Masaaki. Sample Introduction Device and Charged Particle Beam Instrument. U.S. Patent Number 9318301, filed November 26, 2014, and published online on April 19, 2016. Patent URL: http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=9318301.PN.&OS=PN/9318301RS=PN/9318301

Keywords for this news article include: JEOL Ltd., Technology Companies, Scientific and Technical Instrument Companies.

Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2016, NewsRx LLC

(c) 2016 NewsRx LLC, source Technology Newsletters

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