We investigate the ability of a focused helium ion beam to selectively modify and mill materials. The sub nanometer probe size of the helium ion microscope used provides lateral control not previously available for helium ion irradiation experiments. At high incidence angles the helium ions were found to remove surface material from a silicon lamella leaving the subsurface structure intact for further analysis. Surface roughness and contaminants were both reduced by the irradiation process. Fabrication is also realized with a high level of patterning acuity. Implantation of helium beneath the surface of the sample is visualized in cross section allowing direct observation of the extended effects of high dose irradiation. The effect of the irradiation on the crystal structure of the material is presented. Applications of the sample modification process are presented and further prospects discussed.
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