"Nanotomography: Advanced Techniques for Failure Analysis"

Terence Yeoh, Neil Ives, Nathan Presser, Gary Stupian, Martin Leung, and Steven Moss
The Aerospace Corporation

Abstract

 Tomorrow’s advanced electronic and photonic structures are being incorporated into today’s high reliability parts. These structures are becoming increasingly complex in design and often utilize nanochemical or quantum effects in order to operate. These devices therefore require extremely tight tolerances in order to carry out their designed functions optimally. Often, little is known about the actual physics of operation and the potential mechanisms for failure. When these devices do fail, the failure regions are often mere fractions of the already small feature sizes. More traditional devices designed at large feature sizes can also fail unexpectedly when they are scaled to below the 100 nm range due nanostructural and nanochemical causes. An entire suite of advanced failure analysis tools such as focused ion beam nanotomography, electron beam isosurface tomography, and transmission electron beam tomography has been developed in order to provide a better understanding of these failure mechanisms.

Through these techniques, the morphology of failure region and chemical phase locations can be quantified. Information from traditional TEM nanoanalytical techniques such as electron energy loss spectroscopy, energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy, and nanodiffraction can then be used to complement the nanotomography techniques and combine both chemical and spatial information to form a complete suite of advanced nanotomographic tools. These tools not only help to provide a holistic understanding of the physics of failure, but also can be used as a test bench to assess and determine possible modes of failure. The information generated by these techniques is essential in the design process in order to help suggest paths for future design and process improvements as well as direct risk mitigation action for space and other critical applications. This paper will discuss all three of these techniques and present some examples in which these advanced techniques have improved the understanding of materials systems and devices at the nanoscale.

This work was supported under The Aerospace Corporation's Independent Research and Development Program.

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