Nanoscale Measuring, Without Harm
2014 R&D 100 Winner
From magnetic devices for terabit-class hard drives to the study of living cells, a growing need for the nondestructive nanoscale measurement of physical properties and surface structures has driven the rapid development of new innovations in scanning probe microscopy, which can handle certain types of samples that challenge atomic force microscopy (AFM) or scanning electron microscopy (SEM).
Engineers at Hitachi Ltd.’s Yokohama Research Laboratory have achieved a spatial resolution of 3 nm and imaging repeatability of 0.5 nm in the new Plasmon‐Excitation Optical Scanning Probe Microscope (Optical SPM), which allows users to obtain difficult nondestructive measurements of nanoscale devices. These include strain layer properties of high-electron-mobility transistors and the critical dimension of heat-sink magnetic recording devices, which have a highly polished surface easily damaged by static electricity introduced by SEM studies.
The microscope uses a near‐field coupling carbon nanotube (CNT) optical probe to achieve high resolution and a plasmon waveguide to efficiently guide incident light to the ultra-fine CNT optical probe. This technology visualizes the nanoscale interaction between light and matter in the field of nanotechnology for nanoscale electronic devices as well as molecular level biology for living cells.
Scanning probe microscope
|Hitachi Yokohama Research Laboratory's Plasmon-Excitation Optical Scanning Probe Microscope (Optical SPM) development team (l-r): Toshihiko Nakata, Shuichi Baba and Takehiro Tachizaki.|
The Plasmon‐Excitation Optical Scanning Probe Microscope (Optical SPM) Development Team from Yokohama Research Laboratory, Hitachi Ltd.
Toshihiko Nakata, Principal Developer