Afterword: “SpotLight on FELMI-ZFE”

On 23 January 2018, Silicon Alps Cluster partners and other interested parties had the opportunity to take a look into the world of nanoanalysis at FELMI-ZFE.

Established 65 years ago, FELMI-ZFE is a research association consisting of the Institute for Electron Microscopy and Nanoanalysis (FELMI at the TU Graz) and the Graz Centre for Electron Microscopy (member of the ACR group). The research centre combines the expertise of 50 experienced researchers with first-class instrumentation ranging from high-end microscopes and analysis software to the relevant preparation techniques. FELMI-ZFE works with about 110 companies per year and cooperates with more than 30 university institutes at (inter)national level. Fundamental research meets applications. On the one hand, they develop new methods in the field of electron microscopy and related methods, and on the other hand, they offer services in short-term defect and fault analyses as well as process and quality controls. The official FELMI-ZFE presentation can be found here.

This SpotLight event focused on the methods of high-resolution analytical transmission electron microscopy that are particularly relevant for the analysis and investigation of microelectronic components such as semiconductors.

In the introduction, Institute Director Professor Ferdinand Hofer gave an overview of the main research areas and the range of services at FELMI-ZFE. The main materials are metals and alloys, semiconductors, paper and polymers, but also liquids and biological samples. The possibilities for investigation range from surface characterisation and microanalysis to 3D reconstruction, tomography and nanoanalysis.

Three further presentations demonstrated the research results from the semiconductor and microelectronics industries. Rainer Minixhofer (Head of Technology, ams AG) and Werner Grogger (leader of working group in the field of analytical transmission electron microscopy, FELMI-ZFE) presented insights gained in the course of the joint research project “Quantitative Analysis of Internal Interfaces”. The project investigated what happens at interfaces where materials might diffuse and how defects occur. Georg Haberfehlner (Senior Scientist, FELMI-ZFE) presented the electron tomography method for 3D investigations in TEM and also showed results of semiconductor devices, elemental distribution images in three dimensions and atomically resolved 3D images.

After a short networking break, three devices were presented during the guided tour through the building.

Station 1: The “strongest horse” in the FELMI-ZFE stable is the FEI Titan³ G2 60-300 transmission electron microscope. The Austrian Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope (ASTEM) is one of the most powerful microscopes in Europe, impressive for its size alone, as it occupies almost all of the four-metre-high room. The ASTEM enables the characterisation of nanostructures in crystalline materials such as semiconductors and metals with atomic resolution – including their chemical composition and physical properties. In addition to fundamental research, the microscope offers benefits to the domestic economy in particular: the knowledge gained can be used to further improve materials, to develop new pharmaceuticals or to perfect electronic components.

Station 2: Another core element of the FELMI-ZFE is the coupled electron/ion microscope (FIB/SEM Dual Beam Microscope FEI NOVA200), which, in addition to precise preparation for analytical transmission electron microscopy, is also used as a “3D nanoprinter”. The Focused Electron Beam Induced Deposition (FEBID) makes use of a highly focused nano-electron beam that splits special molecules on the surface, thus anchoring them locally. With this technology, FEBID steps in where classical 3D structuring methods reach their limits, enabling the direct production of complex, free-standing 3D nanostructures with structure sizes up to 20 nm, which at the moment is practically unique.

Station 3: The recently developed Zeiss Sigma 300 high-resolution electron microscope isn’t a conventional scanning electron microscope that is limited to the examination of electrically conductive samples – it can also image non-conductive samples without coating due to the variation of the vacuum mode. Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) with the Silicon Drift Detector (Oxford) enables element analysis of large sample surfaces (up to mm) in a short time-frame. The combination of scanning electron microscopy with EDX and Raman spectrometry (Witec) in one instrument enables element-specific, chemical and morphological investigations of one and the same sample site. This is the first device of its kind in Central Europe.

We would like to thank the speakers, participants and the FELMI-ZFE organisation team!

Presentations on the research results are available from FELMI-ZFE on request. If you are interested, please contact Mr Werner Grogger directly: