Reusable Vice-Styler SEM Sample Holders for Pin Mount Stages

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Over a number of years, I have found it desirable to firmly hold a sample in the SEM without the contamination problems (or sample creep) associated with carbon tape. My approach to this has been to make a small vice suitable for gripping the sample which will still fit into a standard pin-mount style sample stage. I have made a number of specimen holders over the last few years, at rock-bottom prices. My recipe for a pin-mount style mini-vice is:

1. Grind or cut a small block of brass to the vice size desired.

2. Drill one hole in the large face of the block the size of the pin (typically around 3mm).

3. Drill two parallel holes (the size for tap holes) through the long axis of the block.

4. Cut off one end of the block perpendicular to the two tap holes.

Graphic of the "Initial block" (2) drill, (3) drill, (4) cut instructions

5. Tap the holes in the larger section of the block.

6. Drill out the tap holes in the smaller section of the block to make clearance holes.

Graphic of the "After cutting" (5) tap holes and (6) drill out directions

7. Cut off a length of brass rod for the pin mount, and solder it in place in the hole in the larger block.

8. Screw two bolts (brass recommended) into the large block through the clearance holes in the smaller block. This is your mini-vice.

Graphic of "Final assembly" (7) solder in pin, (8) bolt together instructions

9. De-burr, clean, and polish as desired. For microscope stages that take a different style mount, the brass rod can be replaced with the appropriate adaptor. I have made these as small as 5mm on a side to as large as around 40mm; the only limit is the size of your chamber and the load limit of your stage. With proper tools several of these can be made in an hour; with hand tools and what is available from the local hobby store, maybe 1.5-2 hours each.

Copyright 2001 Microscopy Today. Presented with permission.