On the limits of scalpel AFM for the 3D electrical characterization of nanomaterials

Chen, S. et al. (2018) On the limits of scalpel AFM for the 3D electrical characterization of nanomaterials. Advanced Functional Materials, 28(52), 1802266. (doi: 10.1002/adfm.201802266)

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Conductive atomic force microscopy (CAFM) has been widely used for electrical characterization of thin dielectrics by applying a gentle contact force that ensures a good electrical contact without inducing additional high‐pressure related phenomena (e.g., flexoelectricity, local heat, scratching). Recently, the CAFM has been used to obtain 3D electrical images of thin dielectrics by etching their surface. However, the effect of the high contact forces/pressures applied during the etching on the electrical properties of the materials has never been considered. By collecting cross‐sectional transmission electron microscopy images at the etched regions, it is shown here that the etching process can modify the morphology of Al2O3 thin films (producing phase change, generation of defects, and metal penetration). It is also observed that this technique severely modifies the electrical properties of pSi and TiO2 wafers during the etching, and several behaviors ignored in previous studies, including i) observation of high currents in the absence of bias, ii) instabilities of etching rate, and iii) degradation of CAFM tips, are reported. Overall, this work should contribute to understand better the limitations of this technique and disseminate it among those applications in which it can be really useful.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work has been supported by the Young 1000 Global Talent Recruitment Program of the Ministry of Education of China, the Ministry of Science and Technology of China (grant no. BRICS2018-211- 2DNEURO), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (grants no. 61502326, 41550110223, 11661131002, 61874075), the Jiangsu Government (grant no. BK20150343), the Ministry of Finance of China (grant no. SX21400213) and the Young 973 National Program of the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (grant no. 2015CB932700). Additional support was from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, UK under grant number EP/K01739X/1, Leverhulme Trust under grand number RPG-2016-135, and The Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Grustan Gutierrez, Dr Enric
Authors: Chen, S., Jiang, L., Buckwell, M., Jing, X., Ji, Y., Grustan Gutierrez, E., Hui, F., Shi, Y., Rommel, M., Paskaleva, A., Benstetter, G., Ng, W. H., Mehonic, A., Kenyon, A. J., and Lanza, M.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Autonomous Systems and Connectivity
Journal Name:Advanced Functional Materials
ISSN (Online):1616-3028
Published Online:12 November 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 WILEY‐VCH Verlag GmbH and Co. KGaA, Weinheim
First Published:First published in Advanced Functional Materials 28(52):1802266
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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