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Material sensitive scanning probe microscopy of subsurface semiconductor nanostructures via beam exit Ar ion polishing

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Article number185702
Journal publication date6/05/2011
JournalNanotechnology
Journal number18
Volume22
Number of pages8
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Whereas scanning probe microscopy (SPM) is highly appreciated for its nanometre scale resolution and sensitivity to surface properties, it generally cannot image solid state nanostructures under the immediate sample surface. Existing methods of cross-sectioning (focused ion beam milling and mechanical and Ar ion polishing) are either prohibitively slow or cannot provide a required surface quality. In this paper we present a novel method of Ar ion beam cross-section polishing via a beam exiting the sample. In this approach, a sample is tilted at a small angle with respect to the polishing beam that enters from underneath the surface of interest and exits at a glancing angle. This creates an almost perfect nanometre scale flat cross-section with close to open angle prismatic shape of the polished and pristine sample surfaces ideal for SPM imaging. Using the new method and material sensitive ultrasonic force microscopy we mapped the internal structure of an InSb/InAs quantum dot superlattice of 18 nm layer periodicity with the depth resolution of the order of 5 nm. We also report using this method to reveal details of interfaces in VLSI (very large scale of integration) low k dielectric interconnects, as well as discussing the performance of the new approach for SPM as well as for scanning electron microscopy studies of nanostructured materials and devices.