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Design and fabrication of scanning near-field microwave probes compatible with atomic force microscopy to image embedded nanostructures

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2 Author(s)
Tabib-Azar, M. ; Dept. of Electr. Eng. & Comput. Sci., Case Western Reserve Univ., Cleveland, OH, USA ; Yaqiang Wang

Design, fabrication, and characterization of near-field microwave scanning probes compatible with an atomic force microscope (AFM) for imaging of embedded nanostructures are discussed. The microwave probe discussed here bridges the frequency gap between the existing local probe microscopy systems, and enables localized microwave spectroscopy and imaging of molecules and nanostructures. The probe consists of a coaxially shielded heavily doped silicon tip, and an aluminum (Al) coplanar waveguide. The coaxial tip structure was formed by a thick photoresist and plasma etching process, enabling the silicon apex to protrude through a well-defined aperture in the Al layer. Using this technique, probes with 10-μm-high coaxial tips of 5-nm apex radius and 500-nm aperture radius were realized. The aperture confines the electromagnetic fields in the exposed tip region, allowing microwave measurements with high spatial resolution. The mechanical and electrical characterizations of the microwave probes were performed to ensure their compliance with the requirement of an AFM, as well as that of the microwave measurements. Finally, simultaneous AFM and microwave imaging of standard AFM samples with grid structures was performed for the first time. The lateral spatial resolution of the microwave scans was approximately 50 nm at 2.8 GHz, compared to 100 nm for the AFM scans. The ability of the microwave signal to penetrate inside the sample opens new possibilities in hyperspectral and multimodal imaging of nanostructures. Correlations between AFM images and the microwave images enable proper registration and referencing of the microwave properties to landmarks in the topographic AFM images.

Published in:

Microwave Theory and Techniques, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:52 ,  Issue: 3 )