July 13, 2005, San Francisco, CA--Oxford nanoScience (Milton Keynes, England) launched its Laser 3-Dimensional Atom Probe (Laser 3DAP) at SEMICON West this week. The microscope is designed to allow atom-by-atom visualization of the structure of semiconductor materials and devices.
According to the company, the key to the instrument is a femtosecond laser that evaporates atoms from the surface of the material under test. Each atom is then analyzed according to its mass, and a position-sensitive detector records the original position of the atom in the sample. The process is repeated for millions of atoms. The company's proprietary PoSAP software then analyzes the data, producing a mass spectrum that shows the chemical composition of the material and a 3D atomic model of the sample where each atom can be color coded according to its chemical identity.
Oxford nanoScience says a complete analysis can be run in just 10 minutes, revealing layer structure and dopoant distributions in semiconductor materials and devices to single-atom depth resolution and sub-nanometer x-y resolution. Oxide layers as thin as 1 nm have been characterized, although significantly thicker layers can also be analyzed, according to the company.