Characterization of strained semiconductor structures using transmission electron microscopy

Today’s state-of-the-art semiconductor electronic devices utilize the charge transport within very small volumes of the active device regions. The structural, chemical and optical material properties in these small dimensions can critically affect the performance of these devices. The present thesis is focused on the nanometer scale characterization of the strain state in semiconductor structures using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Although high-resolution TEM has shown to provide the required accuracy at the nanometer scale, optimization of imaging conditions is necessary for accurate strain measurements. An alternative HRTEM method based on strain mapping on complex-valued exit face wave functions is developed to reduce the artifacts arising from objective lens aberrations. However, a much larger field of view is crucial for mapping strain in the active regions of complex structures like latest generation metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors (MOSFETs). To overcome this, a complementary approach based on electron holography is proposed. The technique relies on the reconstruction of the phase shifts in the diffracted electron beams from a focal series of dark-field images using recently developed exit-face wave function reconstruction algorithm. Combining high spatial resolution, better than 1 nm, with a field of view of about 1 μm in each dimension, simultaneous strain measurements on the array of MOSFETs are possible. Owing to the much lower electron doses used in holography experiments when compared to conventional quantitative methods, the proposed approach allows to map compositional distribution in electron beam sensitive materials such as InGaN heterosturctures without alteration of the original morphology and chemical composition. Moreover, dark-field holography experiments can be performed on thicker specimens than the ones required for high-resolution TEM, which in turn reduces the thin foil relaxation.


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