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Jun 25th, 2010
 
Nightingale-EOS Ltd unveils the n-Gauge™ metrology tool
 
Nightingale-EOS Limited (Wrexham, UK) has launched its first product, the n-Gauge™ metrology tool for characterising the thickness and material properties of thin film coatings on a wide range of devices
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N-Gauge
N-Gauge

Devices include:

  • devices including:
  •  medical implants
  •  microengineered parts
  •  silicon wafers
  •  solar cells
  •  displays
  •  optical coatings

…and many others – wherever in fact there are thin transparent films to be measured. The tool utilises the unique Beam Profile Reflectometry (BPR) technology which has been successfully used in high-volume semiconductor manufacturing for many years. The n-Gauge makes this technology available in a smaller form-factor, at lower cost, and with more capability than ever before.
What it is The n-Gauge is a compact self-contained unit, containing no moving parts, that sits on top of a standard optical microscope1 replacing its standard illumination module and eyepiece assembly. An Ethernet cable connects the tool to an external computer, which provides a simple-to-use graphical user interface and the data analysis capability to make sophisticated measurements of the properties of any films or coatings present on a sample.

 
N-Gauge interface
N-Gauge interface

What it does
The n-Gauge’s user interface provides a high-quality magnified image of the sample being measured (in this example, a cardiac stent). In the centre of the field of view, a highly focused laser spot is visible.

When the spot is located on a coated area, the reflected laser light can be automatically analysed to determine the thickness, refractive index, orientation and strain of the coating at that point. The tool is suitable for any translucent film, whether freestanding or on a substrate, with thicknesses in the range of a few nanometres up to tens of microns. Multilayer films can also be
measured.

The tool will be exhibited at the Medical Design and Manufacturing (MD&M) trade show in Minneapolis, 13th-14th October 2010, and the Commercial Micro Manufacturing (MM Live) trade show in Coventry, England, 19th-20th October 2010. Customers interested in seeing the system or requesting a demonstration in the meantime should contact the company directly.

Dr. Stephen Morris, the company’s founder and Managing Director, said “With the launch of the n- Gauge the unique Beam Profile Reflectometry technology, which was previously only available to high volume semiconductor manufacturers, becomes available for use in a wide range of industrial sectors. We believe that medical device and solar cell manufacturers, in particular, will benefit
from its ability to make accurate ‘on-device’ measurements of coating thickness, strain and refractive index, even where the devices have complex shapes, high surface curvature or are otherwise difficult to align. This should significantly reduce the use of test coupons and off-line device analysis, and make it easier for medical device manufacturers to comply with the FDA’s
Process Analytical Technology (PAT) initiative.”


 
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