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Imaging low-dimensional nanostructures by very low voltage scanning electron microscopy: ultra-shallow topography and depth-tunable material contrast

AuthorsZarraoa, Laura; González Sagardoy, María Ujué ; San Paulo, Álvaro
KeywordsNanoscale materials
Nanoscience and technology
Techniques and instrumentation
Issue Date7-Nov-2019
PublisherSpringer Nature
CitationScientific Reports 9: 16263 (2019)
AbstractWe demonstrate the implications of very low voltage operation (<1 kV) of a scanning electron microscope for imaging low-dimensional nanostructures where standard voltages (2–5 kV) involve a beam penetration depth comparable to the cross-section of the nanostructures. In this common situation, image sharpness, contrast quality and resolution are severely limited by emission of secondary electrons far from the primary beam incidence point. Oppositely, very low voltage operation allows reducing the beam-specimen interaction to an extremely narrow and shallow region around the incidence point, enabling high-resolution and ultra-shallow topographic contrast imaging by high-angle backscattered electrons detection on the one hand, and depth-tunable material contrast imaging by low-angle backscattered electrons detection on the other. We describe the performance of these imaging approaches on silicon nanowires obtained by the vapor-liquid-solid mechanism. Our experimental results, supported by Monte Carlo simulations of backscattered electrons emission from the nanowires, reveal the self-assembly of gold-silica core-shell nanostructures at the nanowire tips without any ad-hoc thermal oxidation step. This result demonstrates the capacity of very low voltage operation to provide optimum sharpness, contrast and resolution in low-dimensional nanostructures and to gather information about nanoscaled core-shell conformations otherwise impossible to obtain by standard scanning electron microscopy alone.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-52690-9
Appears in Collections:(IMN-CNM) Artículos
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