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Research project to develop new imaging technique

15 September 2005 | By Syanne Olson | News > Wafer Processing

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Innos, and Queen Mary College London, are starting a project funded by EPSRC to investigate the potential of Scanning Photo-induced Impedance Microscopy (SPIM) for a range of characterization applications that span semiconductor to biotech.

The new SPIM imaging technique has potential in the investigation of the local dielectric properties of materials and biological specimen with good lateral resolution. Application areas include characterisation of smart materials and the development of new array technology for high-throughput screening or sensing. It also can be used for investigation of cell-surface interactions, which are currently difficult to access with other techniques.

"Innos has helped us to develop suitable semiconductor and insulator substrates that allow SPIM measurements with good resolution and high sensitivity," says Dr Steffi Krause from the Department of Materials at Queen Mary College. "We have improved resolution and sensitivity by reducing the insulator impedance and testing alternative semiconductor substrates. As part of the ongoing work we will be focusing on testing amorphous silicon, which will be grown at Innos."

SPIM is based upon the measurement of light-induced currents at field-effect capacitors, where the specimen being studied is placed onto a semiconductor-insulator substrate. A modulated laser beam is focused into the semiconductor inducing photocurrents, which contain information about the local electrical impedance of the specimen.

 The best results obtained to date involved using thin silicon membranes from back etched silicon on insulator (SOI) wafers and thin, single crystalline silicon layers on silicon on sapphire (SOS) with a thin, thermally grown oxide; the latter even indicating the potential of submicrometer resolution.

"By working with Innos, Queen Mary College has been able to increase flexibility in terms of the limits of resolution and sensitivity. Our equipment has facilitated additional tests that could not be performed elsewhere," says Sales and Marketing Manager at Innos, Dr Alec Reader. "We are going to be looking at the practical applications of SPIM with Queen Mary College in the near future."

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