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Proceedings Paper

Sub-micron elastic property characterization of materials using a near-field scanning optical microscope
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Paper Abstract

The ability to characterize the sub-surface mechanical properties of a bulk or thin film material at the sub-micron level has applications in the microelectronics and thin film industries. In the microelectronics industry, with the decrease of line widths and the increase of component densities, sub-surface voids have become increasingly detrimental. Any voids along an integrated circuit (IC) line can lead to improper electrical connections between components and can cause failure of the device. In the thin film industry, the detection of impurities is also important. Any impurities can detract from the film's desired optical, electrical, or mechanical properties. Just as important as the detection of voids and impurities, is the measurement of the elastic properties of a material on the nanometer scale. These elastic measurements provide insight into the microstructural properties of the material. We have been investigating a technique that couples the high-resolution surface imaging capabilities of the apertureless near-field scanning optical microscope (ANSOM) with the sub-surface characterization strengths of high-frequency ultrasound. As an ultrasonic wave propagates, the amplitude decreases due to geometrical spreading, attenuation from absorption, and scattering from discontinuities. Measurement of wave speeds and attenuation provides the information needed to quantify the bulk or surface properties of a material. The arrival of an ultrasonic wave at or along the surface of a material is accompanied with a small surface displacement. Conventional methods for the ultrasound detection rely on either a contact transducer or optical technique (interferometric, beam deflection, etc.). However, each of these methods is limited by the spatial resolution dictated by the detection footprint. As the footprint size increases, variations across the ultrasonic wavefront are effectively averaged, masking the presence of any nanometer-scale sub-surface or surface mechanical property variations. The use of an ANSOM for sensing ultrasonic wave arrivals reduces the detection footprint allowing any nanometer scale variations in the microstructure of a material to be detected. In an ANSOM, the ultrasonic displacement is manifested as perturbations on the near-field signal due to the small variations in the tip-sample caused by the wave arrival. Due to the linear dependence of the near-field signal on tip-sample separation, these perturbations can be interpreted using methods identical to those for conventional ultrasonic techniques. In this paper, we report results using both contact transducer (5 MHz) and laser-generated ultrasound.

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 December 2001
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 4456, Controlling and Using Light in Nanometric Domains, (5 December 2001); doi: 10.1117/12.449527
Show Author Affiliations
David W. Blodgett, Johns Hopkins Univ. (United States)
James B. Spicer, Johns Hopkins Univ. (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4456:
Controlling and Using Light in Nanometric Domains
Aaron Lewis; H. Kumar Wickramasinghe; Katharina H.B. Al-Shamery, Editor(s)

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