Mapping buried nanostructures using subsurface ultrasonic resonance force microscopy

Posted on: Nov 08, 2017 By Kim Dielwart


Nondestructive subsurface nanoimaging of buried nanostructures is considered to be extremely challenging and is essential for the reliable manufacturing of nanotechnology products such as three-dimensional (3D) transistors, 3D NAND memory, and future quantum electronics. In scanning probe microscopy (SPM), a microcantilever with a sharp tip can measure the properties of a surface with nanometer resolution. SPM combined with ultrasound excitation, known as ultrasound SPM, has shown the capability to image buried nanoscale features. In this paper, the development of a modified type of ultrasound SPM called subsurface ultrasonic resonance force microscopy (SSURFM) is reported. The capability and versatility of this method is demonstrated by the subsurface imaging of various samples including rigid structures buried under a soft matrix (aluminum under a polymer), rigid structures buried under multiple layers (aluminum under a polymer and titanium layer), and rigid structures under a rigid matrix (aluminum under silicon oxide). Furthermore, tuning and optimization of the image contrast are reported. The experimental results provide possible new industrial metrology and inspection solutions for nanostructures buried below the surface.