Client: FEI / Phenom World

FEI develops and produces electron microscopes. In 2004 they started the development of a table-top electron microscope, the Phenom. Within, a sample may be placed, after which an intern places it in a room with a high vacuum within 30 seconds. Here the sample is ‘lit’ by a beam of electrons. The reflecting electrons are collected and offered to a DSP via a pre-amplifier. Here, contrast and brightness are controlled, and the noise is filtered out of the picture. The image is then forwarded via a PCI interface to a PC, with which the image is displayed on a screen.

This electron microscope contains 3 microcontrollers, a DSP, a PC and two DMA controllers. MKSE designed and wrote all the firmware for the microcontrollers, as well as large parts of the firmware for the DSP and the Linux PCI driver on the PC. Furthermore, MKSE was involved in the design of the hardware, and developed soft- and hardware that is used to test boards from production.
In the meantime, this electron microscope has been selling well for several years now and people are working on a new version. For this version MKSE was asked to act as an advisor for the firmware developers.