The sub-nanometer beam of a helium ion microscope was used to study and optimize helium-ion beam induced deposition of PtC nanopillars with the (CH 3)3Pt(CPCH3) precursor. The beam current, beam dwell time, precursor refresh time, and beam focus have been independently varied. Continuous beam exposure resulted in narrow but short pillars, while pulsed exposure resulted in thinner and higher ones. Furthermore, at short dwell times the deposition efficiency was very high, especially for a defocused beam. Efficiencies were measured up to 20 times the value for continuous exposure conditions. The interpretation of the experimental data was aided by a Monte Carlo simulation of the deposition. The results indicate that two regimes are operational in ion beam induced deposition (IBID). In the first one, the adsorbed precursor molecules originally present in the beam interaction region decompose. After the original precursor layer is consumed, further depletion is averted and growth continues by the supply of molecules via adsorption and surface diffusion. Depletion around the beam impact site can be distinguished from depletion on the flanges of the growing pillars. The Monte Carlo simulations for low precursor surface coverage reproduce measured growth rates, but predict considerably narrower pillars, especially at short dwell times. Both the experiments and the simulations show that the pillar width rapidly increases with increasing beam diameter. Optimal writing strategy, good beam focusing, and rapid beam positioning are needed for efficient and precise fabrication of extended and complex nanostructures by He-IBID. © 2011 American Vacuum Society.