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Potential shielding by the surface water layer in Kelvin probe force microscopy

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5 Author(s)
Sugimura, Hiroyuki ; Department of Materials Processing Engineering, Graduate School of Engineering, Nagoya University, Furo-cho, Chikusa, Nagoya 464-8603, Japan ; Ishida, Yuzuru ; Hayashi, Kazuyuki ; Takai, O.
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Kelvin probe force microscopy (KFM) was applied to two-dimensional profiling of silicon pn-structures covered with a 2 nm-thick oxide layer. The surface potential contrast between the p- and n-type regions depended on the hydrophobicity of the oxide surface when KFM imaging was conducted in air with a relative humidity of more than 50%. By decreasing the density of surface hydroxyl groups on the oxide layer through thermal annealing, the potential contrast between the p- and n-type regions increased. While there was no detectable contrast on samples covered with hydrophilic oxide with a water contact angle of almost 0°, contrast increased to greater than 50 mV on the samples covered with hydrophobic oxide with a water contact angle of about 80°. However, when KFM imaging was conducted in a dry nitrogen atmosphere with relative humidity less than 0.6%, a clear potential contrast of about 50 mV could be acquired even on samples covered with the hydrophilic oxide layer. Since samples with less adsorbed water on their surface showed greater potential contrast, contrast degradation is attributed to a shielding effect of the adsorbed water layer. © 2002 American Institute of Physics.

Published in:

Applied Physics Letters  (Volume:80 ,  Issue: 8 )