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Nature. 2008 Jun 19;453(7198):1086-9. doi: 10.1038/nature07049.

Nanoscale holographic interferometry for strain measurements in electronic devices.

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CEMES-CNRS, nMat Group, 29 rue Jeanne Marvig, 31055 Toulouse, France.


Strained silicon is now an integral feature of the latest generation of transistors and electronic devices because of the associated enhancement in carrier mobility. Strain is also expected to have an important role in future devices based on nanowires and in optoelectronic components. Different strategies have been used to engineer strain in devices, leading to complex strain distributions in two and three dimensions. Developing methods of strain measurement at the nanoscale has therefore been an important objective in recent years but has proved elusive in practice: none of the existing techniques combines the necessary spatial resolution, precision and field of view. For example, Raman spectroscopy or X-ray diffraction techniques can map strain at the micrometre scale, whereas transmission electron microscopy allows strain measurement at the nanometre scale but only over small sample areas. Here we present a technique capable of bridging this gap and measuring strain to high precision, with nanometre spatial resolution and for micrometre fields of view. Our method combines the advantages of moiré techniques with the flexibility of off-axis electron holography and is also applicable to relatively thick samples, thus reducing the influence of thin-film relaxation effects.

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