Scanning thermal profiler

Williams, C. C.; Wickramasinghe, H. K.
December 1986
Applied Physics Letters;12/8/1986, Vol. 49 Issue 23, p1587
Academic Journal
A new high-resolution profilometer has been demonstrated based upon a noncontacting near-field thermal probe. The thermal probe consists of a thermocouple sensor with dimensions approaching 100 nm. Profiling is achieved by scanning the heated sensor above but close to the surface of a solid. The conduction of heat between tip and sample via the air provides a means for maintaining the sample spacing constant during the lateral scan. The large difference in thermal properties between air and solids makes the profiling technique essentially independent of the material properties of the solid. Noncontact profiling of resist and metal films has shown a lateral resolution of 100 nm and a depth solution of 3 nm. The basic theory of the new probe is described and the results presented.


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