The "Micro Vise"
Vise for Very Delicate Objects
Sometimes you will encounter extremely touch-sensitive specimens. They must be clamped very accurately parallel or normal to the viewing or ion-etching beam. And - to make it worse, in often enough there is very little space available towards the pole piece of the FIB or SEM. The airlock mechanism may be quite narrow too. These are the situations, for which the "Micro Vise" was designed.
It is not just a miniaturized clamp, but the jaws run between very precise linear bearings to provide micron-precise movement of the parallel jaw blades. This allows exact positioning of a row of many TEM-grids. The jaw tension is held constant by a fine spring load mechanism, which can be overridden if needed. To load the specimens, they are laid down on the Plexiglass surface, with the vise standing on edge in a groove (left in the photograph), so that one of the jaws is flush with the flat surface. Now, the grid can slide into the open vise without being damaged.
This "Micro Vise" is 8 mm high, 17.5 mm wide, and 55 mm long, so it easily runs through most air interlocks, like in a Focused Ion Beam Instrument (FIB). Together with the holding plate (for the 6 screws at the side), it does not interfere with the gas nozzles or detectors near the pole piece.
Now, newer versions are still lower in height (down to 6 mm), therefore they will even fit into the types of Atomic Force Microscopes (AFM), where the specimen (and not the cantilever!) performs the scanning motion. There, usually space is extremely restricted.