• Slide Title

    The NEW SC24 Field Cancelling System

  • Over 70 years experience

    practical expertise in SEM
    and e-beam tools

  • SC11 Analysis System

    In-depth analysis from the
    all-in-one, easy to use system

  • Slide Title

    The NEW SC26


Analysis Systems

Combining the measurements and analysis of magnetic fields, vibrations and acoustics into one compact, easy to operate system, Spicer Consulting's SC11 is the simplest way to gain accurate usable data from site surveys for SEMs and similar sensitive equipment.

Field Cancelling

Spicer Consulting field cancelling systems can stabilise the ambient magnetic field to restore the resolution and accuracy of an electron beam tool.

Discover our range of  f ield cancelling systems, including the latest SC24 , SC22 and SC26 .

Consulting & Installation

With over 70 years of combined experience providing practical expertise in SEM and e-beam tools, we provide a wide range of consulting services. 

From installation support, through to the modelling of magnetic fields for a custom installation, we have the expertise to help you.

Latest News and Knowledge

Knowledge Base

By spicerconsulting 24 Apr, 2017
In normal use, a magnetic field cancelling system does not affect a pacemaker.

The level of field that affects a pacemaker is several orders of magnitude higher than the level of field that affects an electron microscope. Our systems actually reduce the levels of field at the microscope and make changes to the levels of field of the same order of magnitude as the pre-existing ambient field in other parts of the room. The only place our systems make stronger fields is right next to the cancelling cables. Therefore it would be inadvisable to press your pacemaker right up to a cancelling cable.
By spicerconsulting 27 Jan, 2017
We were asked whether moving gas cylinders on the floor above a large TEM would cause a problem with its magnetic field environment. We made measurements of the DC field fluctuations at different positions as a large gas cylinder was wheeled past on a trolley. The results show that a non-uniform field fluctuation was created by the cylinder, which would exceed the specifications of the microscope. It would require a dual magnetic field cancelling system to bring the field back into specification. It should be noted that the cylinder was a standard type used in many laboratories, but we only made measurements for one cylinder. Other cylinders may give different levels of field.


A large high resolution TEM with monochromator and energy analyser can image with sub-Angstrom resolution, but is very sensitive to magnetic fields in the environment. Typically the field is required to be stable to within 30 nT Pk-Pk, but some models have tighter requirements.

We were asked whether moving gas cylinders on the floor above a large TEM would cause a problem with its magnetic field environment, so we decided to make some measurements. It was not convenient to measure the field below the cylinder, so we measured the field above it.


The steel gas cylinder was made to BS 5045-1. It was 1.5m long and 0.22m diameter. It was found to be slightly magnetised, with fields up to about 4 times the Earth’s field on the surface of the cylinder. No special effort was made to magnetise or de-magnetise the cylinder, so it may be regarded as typical. It was placed on a standard steel trolley designed to carry gas cylinders.

A Spicer Consulting 3-axis DC sensor was placed at various different heights. The cylinder trolley was pushed under the sensor for a distance of 5m in the Y direction relative to the sensor. The Earth’s field is X=120, Y= 140, Z=-440 mG, relative to the sensor. The sensor was reset each time to remove the Earth’s field from the measurement.

The SC11 Chart Recorder was used to chart the magnetic field waveform in 3 axes. The resulting waveforms were extracted from the chart recorder results and plotted using SCplot. The peak to peak change reported by SCplot was adjusted to remove the AC (50 Hz) that broadens the trace on the chart. The height of the cylinder was subtracted from the height above ground to obtain the distance from the cylinder. The results are summarised in Table 1 and Chart 1 below.

By spicerconsulting 17 Nov, 2016

Spicer Consulting is pleased to announce the new SC11/AC sensor. This new sensor is for use with the SC11/SI and is not for use with cancelling systems. It has the same magnetic field bandwidth and range as the SC11/Basic sensor, but no built-in inputs. It gives the SC11/SI the same AC field measuring capabilities as the SC11/Basic. 

We no longer recommend any other AC sensor for use with the SC11/SI. If you would like to know which magnetic field sensor you should use, check out our guide .

By spicerconsulting 14 Jul, 2016

Spicer Consulting is pleased to announce the new SC26 Magnetic Field Cancelling system.
It is a replacement for the SC20Fast with LCD screen and automatic set-up. The SC26 is not a replacement for the SC22 or SC24. It is only for use in 300mm wafer fabs with overhead wafer transports that create 9 kHz magnetic fields.


The key features are:

· Makes the ambient magnetic field “OK” for electron beam tools in 300 mm wafer fabs

· Real time, wideband cancelling from DC to > 9 kHz fields

· Adapts to field amplitude and frequency changes within 10 μs

· Touch screen intelligent user interface with automatic set-up and DC reset

· Simultaneous AC & DC field display with choice of Tesla or Gauss units

· Mixes dual sensors to create virtual sensor “inside” the EM column

· Built-in test field generator

· Ethernet and USB ports for remote operation and monitoring


There are more details at  http://www.spicerconsulting.com/sc26-magnetic-field-cancelling-system  

By spicerconsulting 21 Jan, 2016
In 2015, Spicer Consulting released two new magnetic field cancelling systems – the SC24 and SC26 which replaced the SC20 and SC20Fast. At the same time we changed our range of sensors. We renamed some to go with the new cancelling systems. We also created some new types of sensor. This article explains our thinking behind the sensor changes.
By spicerconsulting 13 Nov, 2015

Spicer Consulting is pleased to announce a new version of the SC11 Analysis System software. This release supports all versions of SC11 hardware and all versions of Windows from XP to 10.  

New features include much faster reset for the latest DC sensors and some extra macro commands in the Survey program.

Many bugs have been fixed, including the display of the specification in the Spectrum Analyser and the export of RMS and Pk-Pk files from the Chart Recorder. Many small issues with SCplot are also corrected.

SC11 5.4 is available as a free upgrade to all users of SC11 5.0 or later. There are two formats:

  • Download via the internet (for USB-based hardware only)
  • DVD and user manual via mail to your postal address

 To receive the upgrade, please  contact us  and let us know which format you prefer

By spicerconsulting 09 Sep, 2015
We’re measuring the environment for some new microscopes at King’s College London. The microscope suite has five rooms. That could mean five to seven new microscopes being installed. To protect the investment in these, we want to make sure that the environment is good. As part of our Site Survey Service, we’re measuring magnetic fields, vibration and sounds levels to see if there are any issues.
By spicerconsulting 10 Aug, 2015
Spicer Consulting recently interviewed Dr Roland Fleck, Director for the   Centre for Ultrastructural Imaging   (CUI) at King’s College London, whose microscope facilities and capabilities are due to undergo a major transformation
By spicerconsulting 09 Apr, 2015

This post outlines some of the reasons to choose Spicer Consulting magnetic field cancelling systems in preference to other competing products.

 There is little to be gained in comparing specifications. Different manufacturers may make different underlying assumptions that make direct comparison difficult. Parameters that compare poorly may be omitted. In any case, some of the most important performance characteristics of a cancelling system are determined by the laws of physics relating the cable geometry to the shape of the magnetic field generated and therefore are not specific to any particular product. However, we can point out some the outstanding features of Spicer Consulting cancelling systems:

 The New SC22, SC24 and SC26 are modern designs with colour LCD displays and a simple user interface.

  • There is a readout of the total magnetic field in addition to the X, Y and Z components.
  • The SC24/SC26 can show AC and DC fields in X, Y, Z and total all at the same time.
  • The readings are in a choice of units mG, nT or uT.
  • There is a Field Ok light and trip and indicators to show which axis has a problem.
  • There are clip indicators to show if the sensor is overloaded.
  • The screen shows you if the sensors/cables are connected
  • The setup results give error messages which help you to fix any installation problems.

 All our systems support 2 sensors and a mixer, making a virtual sensor adjustable in position along a line between the physical sensors. This enables the physical sensors to be located further away from the column. This flexibility enables you to reduce sensor overload when a large TEM changes its magnification, or to avoid places where the field is distorted by the column or chamber iron. The mixer can be tuned in to optimise the microscope image.

The SC22 is for AC cancelling only and is competitvely priced. It does not have lots of adjustments. You just press SETUP and it sets its own gain and phase. The SC22 has a USB interface and remote monitoring software.

The new SC24 and SC26 replace the SC20 and SC20Fast. They have the same simplicity of setup as the SC22, using an LCD touch screen. They also have a built-in mixer. The SC24 and SC26 have USB and Ethernet  interfaces and remote monitoring software.

The SC22/SC24/SC26 automatically detects if it is oscillating and shuts itself down. This could happen if someone moved the sensor while it was cancelling.

The SC24 and SC26 have an auto reset feature, which allows them to keep working without user intervention after the microscope has put out a big change in DC level. This happens when a TEM changes magnification. Even some SEM or dual beam systems do this when they change operating mode.

The SC24 and SC26 have the ability to generate magnetic fields for trouble shooting and setup purposes.

We provide a variety of ready built standard cables (Helmholtz for frames, single loop and double loop room cables, single or double loop fast cables for SC20Fast/SC26).

Our systems are CSA certified, which majors on product safety. CSA regularly visits us to check on our manufacturing quality and documentation.

By spicerconsulting 09 Apr, 2015
The SC20Fast is for use with clean room CDSEM tools. It is able to cancel the approximately 9 kHz fields made by overhead wafer transport systems. This post explains the rules for selecting the sensors for use with the SC20Fast.

1. The SC20Fast has two sensor inputs "Sensor1(left)" and "Sensor2(right)"
2. The sensors plugged in to the two inputs must be the same.
3. You must not plug "Sensor SC20/AC" or "Sensor SC20/DCMR" into these inputs.
   The system will oscillate. It probably will not break.
4. If you are using one "Sensor SC20Fast/AC" it must be in "Sensor1(left)"
   The mixer will be disabled.
5. If you are using two "Sensor SC20Fast/AC" (one in each input) the mixer is enabled.
6. If you need DC cancelling you need a DC combiner. (This is not a mixer)
   It has inputs for one "Sensor SC20Fast/AC" and one "Sensor SC20/DCMR".
   The Combiner output is plugged into "Sensor1(left)". (The mixer is disabled)
   This Combiner contains a 25Hz crossover network.
   The SC20Fast uses "Sensor SC20/DCMR" below 25Hz, "Sensor SC20Fast/AC" above 25Hz
7. If you need better AC cancelling at 60Hz you need an AC combiner. (this is not a mixer)
   It has inputs for one "Sensor SC20Fast/AC" and one "Sensor SC20/AC".
   The Combiner output is plugged into "Sensor1(left)". (The mixer is disabled)
   This Combiner contains a 800Hz crossover network.
   The SC20Fast uses "Sensor SC20/AC" below 800Hz, "Sensor SC20Fast/AC" above 800Hz
   You position "Sensor SC20Fast/AC" in the tool for best 9kHz cancelling
   You position "Sensor SC20/AC"in the tool for best 60Hz cancelling
By spicerconsulting 09 Apr, 2015

Samsung, USA improves imaging to 99%
Having carried out an in-house survey which detected an EMI of 60HZ, Craig Lopp of Samsung, Austin consulted with their Electron Microscope supplier JEOL as how best to overcome the interference it was causing. JEOL suggested that Vibration Engineering, Spicer Consulting's agent in the USA, should be asked to look at the problem affecting the 2 instruments. "Vibration Engineering came in and agreed to set up an SC12 Field Cancelling System for each microscope" explained Craig Lopp, "If they worked, we agreed they would be purchased. They did and the images are now up to 99% of what it should be. They're really simple to use. Once the system was demonstrated to work, we fed all the cables, hooked them up and they've worked ever since."

Johnson Matthey eliminates the risks associated with electromagnetic fields
When Johnson Matthey were planning the installation of their new SEM, they made the decision to install the SC12 as a precautionary measure. As Mr Spratt from the company explains, "We are aware that when examining very small features on a powerful SEM, temperature, vibration and magnetic fields can all cause deviations. We had a survey carried out, prior to installation and although the magnetic field was not excessive it was apparent. It is always better to install a system like the SC12 before the microscope is installed so you can put the loops in the floor and ceiling. When you are making a big investment you have got to be certain that it won't fall over. You have to eliminate as many risks as possible."

The SC12 overcomes beam distortion at Motorola
When Motorola purchased and set up a new Hitachi CDSEM machine for semiconductor work at their East Kilbride plant, they discovered that the beam was being distorted, due to interference from two other machines in the clean room. On Hitachi's recommendation, Sandy Millar who was in charge of the installation, contacted Spicer Consulting, who carried out a full survey, then proposed and commissioned an SC12. "So far, we've never had a problem. All we have had to do on one occasion, when someone knocked one of the sensors, was to press the reset button. I worked quite closely with Spicer Consulting when they came up and you get the feeling that they know exactly what they are doing. I'd recommend them to anyone who had the same problem." [Motorola has since beome Freescale Semiconductor]

Protecting the investment in electron beam technology at Leica Lithography Systems
Leica Lithography Systems at Cambridge have had a long relationship with Spicer Consulting. "It's a matter of cost." summed up Don Wilderspin from Leica, "E-beam clean rooms are vastly expensive to move or shut down because of a problem. If we can fix a problem at source, that's best. If not the SC12 or similar has to be the answer.You'll find that things change in an installation also. The environment does change. Suddenly more load is put on a cable than before and you have a problem that can be the most difficult case of all to sort out unless you have protected yourself from the problem in the first place. The SC12 Field Cancelling System is very easy to use, it's strength is in the fact that it's totally transparent." [Leica Lithography Systems has since become Vistec and merged with Raith]

By spicerconsulting 09 Apr, 2015

Versions of the SC11 Analysis System software prior to 4.3 saved results in a text file format but did not include any results viewing program. Instead an Excel spreadsheet called "SCview.xls" was provided free of charge and could be downloaded from the web site.

From SC11 version 4.3 onwards, the SCPlot program is included as standard. SCplot can open files from earlier versions of SC11 as well as the different file format introduced in version 5.0

If you are still using SC11 version 4.2 or earlier and you need SCview.xls, please contact us and we will send it to you free of charge. It requires Excel 97 or later. If you are using SC11 version 4.3 or later, then please use SCPlot. It is quicker to use than SCview. SCview cannot open files from SC11 5.0 or later.

By spicerconsulting 09 Apr, 2015

Q. When measuring a vibration spectrum, I see a large signal at the low frequency end. Is this a real vibration?
A. The issue is caused by the 1/f noise limit of the accelerometer.

The Wilcoxon 731A accelerometer bandwidth is 0.1Hz - 500Hz. At large low frequency vibration amplitudes the bandwidth is the limiting parameter. At the very low amplitudes we need to measure for electron microscope environments, the 1/f noise of the accelerometer is the limiting parameter.
To derive displacement in microns from the accelerometer output the SC11 has to divide its output by frequency squared. Please see page 111 of the SC11 user manual.

This fundamental physics noise limit means that vibration spectra results at low frequencies must be interpreted carefully. Most of the signal you see on spectra below 1Hz is probably not vibration. Vibration specialists call this issue the system noise floor.

By spicerconsulting 09 Apr, 2015

 There are two main concerns:
1. Will the two systems interact with each other and cause instability?
2. Will the field from one system cause the field in the adjacent room to be non-uniform?

1. Will the two systems interact with each other and cause instability?
Two Spicer Consulting cancelling systems will work fine in adjacent rooms. This is because the amount of crosstalk is typically less than 12%. Each cancelling system can cancel any field made by the other one at its sensor position. Therefore this concern is not usually a problem.

There is one proviso – do not place a cable from one system on the other side of the same wall as the cable of another system. These would couple strongly to each other causing instability in both systems. If fitting wall-mounted cables in adjacent rooms, put at least one of the cables on the far wall away from the other room.

2. Will the field from one system cause the field in the adjacent room to be non-uniform?

Yes it will to some extent. This could be a problem if the non-uniformity in the field exceeds the specification of a large high resolution TEM in one of the rooms. It is not a problem with small columns such as SEMs and Dual Beam machines. The size of the non-uniformity depends on the size and position of the cables and the size of the field that is being cancelled.

By spicerconsulting 09 Apr, 2015

The SC11 Survey program automates a complete survey by calling the SC11 instruments using Active X technology. It is like the SC11 Wizard except that it uses a macro that can run several measurements and automatically save the results. Survey guides you through the choice of sensors, a self test to ensure all the sensors are working and then the survey itself. Survey enables first-time users to set up the equipment and run a standard survey using a macro and setup files that have already been created by an expert user.

This program is designed to work with the full SC11/SI system with 2 DC magnetic field sensors, 3 accelerometers and a precision microphone. Self test can be customised to omit magnetic field, or vibration or acoustic tests if required. Survey macros are very flexible, but once written, they require the sensors for which they are designed.

The Show Presentation button on the Start page opens a document that shows in detail how to connect the sensors, run a self test and perform a survey for the full SC11/SI system. It is possible to customise this presentation for other hardware configurations.

Self test works by comparing the output of 2 magnetic field sensors or 3 accelerometers. It also uses the self-test feature of the precision microphone. The self test report includes spectra comparing the sensors and a pass/fail result. If self test fails, it advises the user to ask for support before continuing with the survey. The report can then be sent to an expert user so that they can diagnose whether a sensor is faulty or advise the user how to get it working.

By spicerconsulting 04 Feb, 2015
The Spicer Consulting Magnetic Field Cancelling Systems comprise a Magnetic Field Control Unit, AC or DC Magnetic Field Sensors and three multicore cables which are installed in the room where the field is to be cancelled.

The Control Unit power amplifiers drive currents through the cables to create a field which is the opposite sign to the changes in the ambient field. The magnetic field sensors measure the resulting field and real time negative feedback reduces the ambient field by the loop gain of the system.

The systems are dynamic, automatically responding to field changes within 100 µs.
By spicerconsulting 04 Feb, 2015

This section provides background information on magnetic fields with reference to electron microscopes and similar instruments. Magnetic fields are created by electric currents in the space around where the currents flow. Currents which do not change with time (called direct currents or DC) make constant magnetic fields which we call DC fields. A gradual change in a direct current creates a corresponding gradual change in the DC field. By convention we refer to unchanging fields and fields which change in this slow non-periodic manner as DC fields.

Currents which change sign in a regular manner with time are called alternating currents or AC and give rise to corresponding AC magnetic fields.

The most common AC fields are created by power lines and usually have fundamental frequencies of 50 or 60 Hz (referred to as "line" frequency) often with harmonics up to about 5 kHz. AC fields at other frequencies may be generated by rotating machines containing permanent magnets. Examples are magnetic stirrers and plasma etch machines which may make fields at about 0.3 Hz.

The units used to measure magnetic fields are as follows....
SI unit of magnetic field strength:      Amp/metre (A/m)
SI unit of magnetic flux density:        Tesla (T)
CGS unit of magnetic flux density:    Gauss (G)

The SI units are the modern units but the old CGS unit, the Gauss, is still so widely used that it has been kept in the Spicer Consulting systems. The old CGS unit of magnetic field strength, the Oersted, is now rarely used.

The Amp/metre unit is commonly used by the electricity supply industry as it relates directly to the currents which are generating the magnetic field. The Tesla and Gauss are units of the flux density created by the magnetic field and are the most common units used in measurement of fields. The relationship between the units (in air or space) is as follows...
1 Amp/metre = 1.257 microTesla = 12.57 milliGauss        

Protecting your Investment in Electron Beam Technology

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