Non-destructive characterization of surfaces and thin coatings using a large-bandwidth interdigital transducer

Rev Sci Instrum. 2018 Dec;89(12):124901. doi: 10.1063/1.5045213.


This paper deals with non-destructive testing of thin layer structures using Rayleigh-type waves over a broad frequency range (25-125 MHz). The dispersion phenomenon was used to characterize a layer-on-substrate-type sample comprising a thin layer of platinum 100 nm thick on a silicon substrate. The originality of this paper lies in the investigation of different ways of generating surface acoustic waves (SAWs) with large bandwidth interdigital transducers (IDTs) as well as the development of a measuring device to accurately estimate the SAW phase velocity. In particular, this study focuses on comparing the performance (in terms of SAW amplitude and bandwidth) of different excitations imposed on IDTs. The three types of excitations are burst, impulse, and chirp. The interest of chirp excitation compared to the other two types was clearly demonstrated in terms of the SAW bandwidth and amplitude of displacement. With these IDT transducers, measurements could be performed over a wide frequency band (20-125 MHz), and consequently, dispersion curves could be obtained over a wide frequency band with a range of velocity variations in the order of 100 m/s. Under these conditions, an extremely accurate estimate of the phase velocity as a function of the frequency could be obtained using a Slant Stack transformation. Finally, from these experimental dispersion curves and theoretical dispersion curves, an accurate estimate of the thickness of the layer could be obtained by inversion. This estimated thickness was then confirmed using profilometer measurements.