Continuing technological advances require the element analysis of increasingly smaller structures in many fields of materials science, including semiconductors and nanotechnology in general. The element composition of thin electron transparent samples can be analyzed in the nm-range using transmission electron microscopes (TEM) or, specific sample holders provided, in the field emission scanning electron microscope (FE-SEM). Nevertheless both methods often require complex sample preparation. An alternative method is to analyze bulk samples with a FE-SEM. In order to decrease the excitation volume for generated X-rays, low accelerating voltages are required. Consequently, only low energy X-ray lines can be evaluated. Specific examples of this approach are discussed below. They demonstrate that features in bulk structures at the sub-µm scale can be analyzed very quickly using silicon drift detector (SDD) technology and modern data processing.
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Imaging & Microscopy Issue 4 , 2012 as free epaper or pdf download