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In-situ near-field probe microscopy of plasma processing



Alexander Tselev, Jeffrey Fagan, Andrei Kolmakov


There exists a great necessity for in situ nanoscale characterization of surfaces and thin films during plasma treatments. To address this need, the current approaches rely on either ‘post mortem' sample microscopy, or in situ optical methods. The latter, however, lack the required nanoscale spatial resolution. In this paper, we propose scanning near-field microwave microscopy to monitor plasma-assisted processes with a submicron spatial resolution. In our approach, a plasma environment with an object of interest is separated from the near-field probe and the rest of the microscope by a SiN membrane of a few-10s nm thickness, and the imaging is performed through this membrane. As a proof of concept, we were able to monitor gradual transformations of carbon nanotube films upon plasma-induced oxidation by a low-pressure air plasma. In the implemented approach with the near-field probe in contact with the membrane, the plasma processing should be interrupted during imaging to preserve the membrane integrity. Possible solutions to achieve in situ real-time imaging during plasma conditions are discussed
Applied Physics Letters


in situ, scanning probe microscopy, microwave impedance microscopy, plasma processing, carbon nanotubes


Tselev, A. , Fagan, J. and Kolmakov, A. (2018), In-situ near-field probe microscopy of plasma processing, Applied Physics Letters, [online],, (Accessed May 19, 2024)


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Created December 26, 2018, Updated October 12, 2021