In situ site-specific specimen preparation for atom probe tomography

Ultramicroscopy. Feb-Mar 2007;107(2-3):131-9. doi: 10.1016/j.ultramic.2006.06.008. Epub 2006 Jul 17.


Techniques for the rapid preparation of atom-probe samples extracted directly from a Si wafer are presented and discussed. A systematic mounting process to a standardized microtip array allows approximately 12 samples to be extracted from a near-surface region and mounted for subsequent focused-ion-beam sharpening in a short period of time, about 2h. In addition, site-specific annular mill extraction techniques are demonstrated that allow specific devices or structures to be removed from a Si wafer and analyzed in the atom-probe. The challenges presented by Ga-induced implantation and damage, particularly at a standard ion-beam accelerating voltage of 30 keV, are shown and discussed. A significant reduction in the extent of the damaged regions through the application of a low-energy "clean-up" ion beam is confirmed by atom-probe analysis of the damaged regions. The Ga+ penetration depth into {100} Si at 30 keV is approximately 40 nm. Clean-up with either a 5 or 2 keV beam reduces the depth of damaged Si to approximately 5 nm and <1 nm, respectively. Finally, a NiSi sample was extracted from a Si wafer, mounted to a microtip array, sharpened, cleaned up with a 5 keV beam and analyzed in the atom probe. The current results demonstrate that specific regions of interest can be accessed and preserved throughout the sample-preparation process and that this preparation method leads to high-quality atom probe analysis of such nano-structures.