Direct Digital Secondary Electron Signal Acquisition Probe for Scanning Electron Microscope.
Research is proposed to investigate the feasibility of applying recent advances in semiconductor technology to fabricate direct digital Quantitative Secondary Electron Detectors (QSED) for scanning electron microscopes (SEMs). If successful, commercial versions of the QSED would transform the SEM/STEM into a quantitative, metrological tool with enhanced capabilities that, in turn, would broaden research horizons across many industries. Conducted in collaboration with Dr. David C Joy, at the University of Tennessee, the detector will be fabricated and tested for sensitivities, noise reduction, DC offset elimination, and metrological capabilities (linearity, accuracy, etc.) against a set of commercially important performance criteria to ascertain feasibility. Once feasibility is proven, the solid state digital device array and its switching frequency will be scaled-up, in Phase II, to improve temporal resolution. If successful, this work will produce a crucial advancement in electron microscopy with wide-ranging applications. Key advantages anticipated from this work: 1. Low noise will improve SEM resolution in nano-scale critical for dimensional metrology. 2. Quantitative measurement will enhance process control, improve reliability prediction and design validation in semiconductors, photo-voltaic, bio-medical devices and catalysts. 3. Video and dynamic-imaging will advance nano-scale research in pharmaceutical and semiconductor. 4. Lower cost will make high-performing electron microscopes affordable to more researchers. 5. Compact size and ease of integration will enable to retrofit and upgrade existing SEM/STEMs. In private briefings on this concept, this QSED idea has generated enthusiastic interest among a number of SEM makers, service companies and existing SEM users who have also offered to support ST in this project. The proposed QSED advance sits squarely in the middle of ScienceTomorrows mission and, if successful, will further the companys business strategy by launching an advanced, high-margin product that will enable the company and its partners to create at least 17 net-new jobs by the end of 2018.
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