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Perfectly, crystalline, 55 nm thick silicon membranes have been fabricated over several square millimeters and used to observe transmission ion channeling patterns showing the early evolution of the axially channeled beam angular distribution for small tilts away from the  axis. The reduced multiple scattering through such thin layers allows fine angular structure produced by the highly non-equilibrium transverse momentum distribution of the channeled beam during its initial propagation in the crystal to be resolved. The membrane crystallinity and flatness were measured by using proton channeling measurements and the surface roughness of 0.4 nm using atomic force microscopy.