Scanning Microscopy


Thin-film ceramic materials have a variety of electronic applications. Several deposition techniques are currently being used to produce such films with specific properties. For example, rf-sputtered ferroelectric perovskite films, with total thicknesses less than 0.5 μ.m, are being integrated with semiconductor devices as elements for non-volatile memories. Since there is a definite need to characterize these thin films after deposition, electron microscopy has been utilized as one of the most powerful techniques available for examining their morphology and microstructure. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) examination of these oxides proved difficult. New TEM sample preparation techniques had to be developed in order to avoid artifacts. Ion milling had to be kept to a minimum because many ferroelectric materials contain lead or other volatile elements. Even though milling has worked quite well under certain conditions, other techniques, such as microtoming, have been successfully used by the authors. In this work, both kinds of sample preparation are explored and compared. Particular emphasis is placed on the understanding of the compositional and microstructural variability of these films, as they are integrated in semiconductor devices.

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