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Scanning Thermal Microscopy for Fast Multiscale Imaging and Manipulation

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4 Author(s)
Cannara, R.J. ; IBM Zurich Res. Lab., Rüschlikon, Switzerland ; Sebastian, A. ; Gotsmann, B. ; Rothuizen, H.

Multiscale resolution imaging and manipulation are essential for applications ranging from defect screening in circuits to nanoscale manipulation, patterning, and lithography. In this paper, we introduce a variant of scanning thermal microscopy to image surfaces at both the micro- and nanoscale. Electrothermal imaging at the microscale is performed in a completely out-of-contact, i.e., “noncontact” or “off-contact,” mode with a microscale heater, followed by higher resolution nanoscale imaging in contact mode with a nanoscale probe tip. Using this methodology, the imaging and manipulation functions of a single probe can be decoupled completely. This off-contact imaging mode is useful for avoiding tip wear and can be performed safely at high velocities. We demonstrate imaging of microscale features at speeds of up to 2 mm/s. The lateral resolution is determined by the dimensions of the heater used for imaging. For the flying heights and heater dimensions used here, the 1-σ lateral spatial resolution limit in the off-contact mode is less than 10 μm for 10-nm-tall features. A silicon nanowire attached to microscale electrodes is imaged to demonstrate the efficacy of this scheme.

Published in:

Nanotechnology, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:9 ,  Issue: 6 )