The Model IBS/e is a high vacuum thin film deposition system designed to precisely deposit subnanometer grain, conductive coatings onto specimens prior to examination in the electron microscope. Thin, conductive films are deposited onto specimens to prevent charging effects and to enhance contrast. Films are deposited using two ion beam sources directed at a target material, eliminating radiation or heating effects common with other coating techniques. Extremely thin, continuous metal or carbon films are deposited without risking damage to delicate features present on the specimen. Virtually any target material can be used for ion beam deposition with precise control over the deposition thickness. An optional third ion source allows specialized ion beam etching techniques to be employed. The ability to deposit amorphous, continuous films makes the IBS/e system ideal for high resolution electron microscopy techniques.