Study of Magnetoelectric and Piezotronic Microstructures and Materials for Biomagnetic Sensing utilizing X-ray Techniques
Detecting electric potential differences from the human physiology is an established technique in medical diagnosis, e.g., as electrocardiogram. It arises from a changing electrical polarization of living cells. Simultaneously, biomagnetism is induced and can be utilized for medical examinations, as well. Benefits in using magnetic signals are, no need for direct skin contact and an increased spatial resolution, e.g., for mapping brain activity, especially in combination with electrical examinations. But biomagnetic signals are very weak and, thus, highly sensitive devices are necessary. The development of small and easy to use biomagnetic sensors, with a sufficient sensitivity, is the goal of the Collaborative Research Centre 1261 - Magnetoelectric Sensors: From Composite Materials to Biomagnetic Diagnostics. This thesis was written as part of this collaboration, with the main focus on the investigation of crystalline structures and structure related properties of piezotronic and magnetostrictive materials by utilizing a selection of X-ray techniques, i.e., X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray reflectivity (XRR) and coherent X-ray diffraction imaging (CXDI). Piezotronics, realized by combining piezoelectricity and Schottky contacts in one structure, provides a promising path to enhance sensor sensitivity. A first study investigated the crystalline structure of three piezotronic ZnO rods, spatially resolved by scanning nano XRD and combined with electrical examinations of their Schottky contact properties. It is found that the crystalline quality has a clear impact on the electrical properties of the related Schottky contact, probably due to crystalline defects. A complementary transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and XRD study performed on hybride vapor phase epitaxy (HVPE) grown GaN showed a slight, photoelectrochemical etching related relaxion of strain originating from crystal growth. In a separate study, CXDI was utilized for three-dimensional visualization of strain in a gold coated ZnO rod, with spatial resolution below 30 nm. A distinct strain distribution was found inside the rod, denoted to depletion and screening effects occurring in bent piezotronic structures, and a high strain at the interface may be related to Schottky contact formation. This interface strain agrees with results obtained from TEM. A succeeding CXDI study was conducted on a ZnO rod coated with magnetostrictive FeCoSiB and the possibility for the investigation of the Schottky contacts electrical properties. It was found that FeCoSiB sputtered on ZnO results in an ohmic contact and that an external magnetic field causes a change of the electrical properties, probably due to a strain change, visualized by CXDI. In a fifth study, magnetostrictive FeCo/TiN multilayer structures were investigated by a combined TEM and XRD/XRR approach, showing a relaxation of the structure due to an annealing process and a cube-on-cube structure of the FeCo and TiN layers.