The probe of an atomic force microscope (AFM) scans a surface to reveal details at a resolution 1,000 times greater than that of an optical microscope. That makes AFM the premier tool for analyzing physical features, but it cannot tell scientists anything about chemistry. For that they turn to the mass spectrometer. Now, scientists have combined these cornerstone capabilities into one instrument that can probe a sample in three dimensions and overlay information about the topography of its surface, the atomic-scale mechanical behavior near the surface, and the chemistry at and under the surface.
To stay competitive, businesses and governments are constantly looking for materials that will open the door to new technologies or sources of energy. Materials that will make their products faster, lighter, stronger or more efficient. Whoever develops those materials first will have a significant edge over the competition.
Researchers have determined that, at the ultra-small scale of the latest chip features, SEM measurements are strongly affected by variations in the gate's three-dimensional shape that can occur in the course of fabrication, including the line width and center position, the angle formed by a raised feature's sidewalls, the curvature radius of the top edge area, and the effect of adjacent structures.
Introducing flaws into liquid crystals by inserting microspheres and then controlling them with electrical fields: that, in a nutshell, is the rationale behind a method that could be exploited for a new generation of advanced materials, potentially useful for optical technologies, electronic displays and e-readers.
Making thin films out of semiconducting materials is analogous to how ice grows on a windowpane: When the conditions are just right, the semiconductor grows in flat crystals that slowly fuse together, eventually forming a continuous film.