Tools and techniques to evaluate local electrical properties  

The importance of characterizing electrical functionality on nanometer length scales continues to grow as devices shrink and new nanomaterials emerge.

AFM modes-Electrical Characterization

Topics include:

  • Conductive AFM (CAFM)

  • Fast Current Mapping Mode 

  • Electric Force Microscopy (EFM)

  • Kelvin Probe Force Microscopy (KPFM)

  • Nanoscale Time Dependent Dielectric Breakdown (NanoTDDB)

  • Scanning Microwave Impedance Microscopy (sMIM)

Application examples:

  • Failure analysis and devices

  • Ferroelectrics

  • Optoelectronics and OPVs

  • Thin Films

  • Carbon Nanotubes

  •  Graphene 



AFM Tools for Nanoscale Electrical Characterization


Improving performance, power consumption, cost, and sustainability are key drivers in R&D on new electrical materials and devices. More and more, achieving these goals involves smaller and smaller length scales. Not only do the dimensions of silicon-based devices keep dwindling, but also next-generation processes with nanoscale components like nanotubes, graphene, and molecular building blocks are emerging. As a result, understanding physical processes that control electrical behavior increasingly requires measurements on smaller length scales. 

The inherent spatial resolution and high force sensitivity of the atomic force microscope (AFM) make it a powerful tool for nanoscale electrical characterization. Accordingly, a number of AFM techniques1 have been developed for direct imaging of local electrical properties (Table 1). These techniques are valuable not just for probing failure modes in electric devices, but in many other applications to identify defects, assess uniformity, and otherwise assure quality.

Here we discuss several AFM electrical techniques. Modes like conductive AFM (CAFM), electrostatic force microscopy (EFM), and Kelvin probe force microscopy (KPFM) are well established and widely used. Fast Current Mapping Mode, nanoscale time-dependent dielectric breakdown (nanoTDDB), and scanning microwave impedance microscopy (sMIM) are newer modes with additional capabilities for electrical characterization available on Asylum Research AFMs.




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