Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)

Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) analysis provides images with near-atomic resolution for measuring surface topography.  AFM is also referred to as Scanning probe microscopy. It is capable of quantifying surface roughness of samples down to the angstrom-scale. In addition to presenting a surface image, AFM analysis can also provide quantitative measurements of feature sizes, such as step heights and other dimensions. Additionally, advanced modes of atomic force microscopy measurements allow for the qualitative mapping of various other physical properties, such as adhesion, modulus, dopant distribution, conductivity, surface potential, electric field, and magnetic domains.

AFM analysis

In addition, AFM is part of the imaging section of the SMART chart

What is the ideal use of Atomic Force Microscopy?

  • Assessing wafers or thin films on wafers (e.g. SiO2, GaAs, SiGe, etc.) before and after processing
  • Investigating processing effects (e.g. plasma treatment) on biomedical devices such as contact lenses, catheters and coated stents
  • Examining the impact of surface roughness on adhesion
  • Assessing trench shape/cleanliness on processed/patterned wafers
  • Determining whether morphology is the source of surface hazes
  • Mapping the distribution of activated carriers
  • Characterizing the uniformity of thin conductive films
  • Measuring step heights between domains on patterned wafersThree-dimensional surface topographic imaging, including surface roughness, grain size, step height, and pitch
  • Imaging of other sample characteristics, including magnetic field, capacitance, and friction. Phase imaging allows the investigation of physical characteristics of surfaces, such as modulus and adhesion.

Strengths of AFM

  • Firstly, quantifying surface roughness
  • Secondly, wafers up to 300mm can be analyzed intact
  • Thirdly, high spatial resolution
  • Lastly, imaging of conducting and insulating samples

Atomic force microscopy limitations

  • Scan range limits: 90µm laterally (xy) and 5µm vertically in z-direction
  • Potential problems with extremely rough or oddly shaped samples
  • Tip-induced errors are possible
  • Many electrical and magnetic modes are limited to qualitative or semi-quantitative measurements

AFM Technical Specifications

  • Signal Detected: Topography
  • Vertical Resolution: 0.1Å
  • Imaging/Mapping: Yes
  • Lateral Resolution/Probe Size:  2-150nm
  • Advanced Analysis Modes:
  • SCM: Scanning Capacitance Microscopy
  • C-AFM: Conductive AFM
  • TUNA: Tunneling AFM
  • KPFM: Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy
  • SSRM: Scanning Spreading Resistance Microscopy
  • EFM: Electrostatic Force Microscopy
  • MFM: Magnetic Force Microscopy
  • PFQNM: Peak Force Quantitative Nanomechanical Microscopy

In Conclusion, EAG Laboratories can offer AFM services that can solve your materials related problem. Finally, Please contact us at 800-366-3867 or complete the form to have an expert discuss your AFM imaging needs.

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