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Quantitative Characterization of Nanostructured Thin Films

Nanomaterials are usually investigated in the Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM). However, it is possible to characterize nanomaterials quantitatively by benifiting from the large field of view of the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). The on-axis TKD technique was developed to this aim; it is now a well established SEM-based method producing orientation distribution measurement at the nanoscale using EBSD hardware. In this application example, the orientation distribution of gold and platinum thin films were measured with e-Flash FS detector retroffited with OPTIMUS TKD head in a FEG-SEM. High speed TKD measurement are achieved at low probe current (<3 nA) allowing to overcome beam drift and achieve ultra high spatial resolution: in 20 minutes over 1000 grains were measured with the smallest grain size being 20 nm and ultrafine features such as twin boundaries were resolved (3nm).

Left: resolved twin boundaries of 3 nm width (IPF Z map, on-axis TKD with 1.5nm step size), right: a diffraction pattern from the Au thin film
On-axis TKD map of a 20 nm Au film on 5 nm Si3N4 membrane - we present the raw orientation distribution map acquired at 2 nm step size along the perpendicular to the sample surface (IPZ). Indexing rate is > 92%. More than 2400 grains were measured.
ARGUS color-coded dark field image of the Au thin film acquired at 3 nm spatial resolution