Extremely accurate conductive measurement technology at nanoscale resolution for failure analysis

Park Systems, a manufacturer of Atomic Force Microscopy systems since 1997 announced PinPoint Conductive AFM, an extremely accurate conductive measurement technology at nano-scale resolution for failure analysis (FA) in the semiconductor industry. The newly designed and innovative Park Systems PinPoint iAFM effectively solves the issues of traditional AFM thereby providing the most optimum solution to the FA engineers’ needs available in the nanotechnology industry today.

“Conductive AFM is an important tool for device research and failure analysis and with the introduction of PinPoint Conductive technology, Park Systems has succeeded in solving all of the shortcomings of conventional conductivity AFM such as quick tip wear, degradation of resolution, low signal to noise ratio, no tip pressure control, and poor reproducibility of data.  The conventional conductive AFM prevalent in the industry has to sacrifice the spatial resolution as the tip wears out in contact mode or the current level due to short and limited contact time,” explains Ryan Yoo, Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing.  “The newly developed PinPoint Conductive AFM provides the best of both higher spatial resolution and optimized current measurement.”

The advantages offered by PinPoint iAFM are of utmost importance because they can overcome and often eliminate the respective difficulties that are present in the conventional Conductive AFM and solve the respective FA problems faced by engineers with respect to SRAM (static random access memory) cells.  The Pinpoint AFM technique offers the lowest current noise level (< 0.1 pA), the maximum current available in the industry (10 mA) and the highest gain selection in the industry (it covers approximately seven orders of magnitude (106 – 1012).  Furthermore, the controllable data acquisition time allows for a very high signal-to-noise ratio.Park’s PinPoint AFM is therefore an extremely effective tool for the characterization of electrical defects in SRAM cells for failure analysis.

By using Park Systems PinPoint Conductive AFM, scientists and engineers can acquire contact current measurement at any specific location of a sample at varying tip pressures, and at a much higher accuracy and precision than what has been possible to-date.  Added benefits from this technology are frictionless conductivity scanning, reproducible data from repeated measurements, cost savings from longer lasting AFM probe tips, and sustained super high nano-resolution.  Park’s new PinPoint Conductive technology provides on-location electrical conductivity data at specific points on sample to researchers and failure analysis engineers and offers frictionless conductivity scanning and excellent high spatial resolution and sensitivity with a very high signal-to-noise ratio.

In PinPoint Conductive mode, the AFM probe monitors its feedback signal, approaches towardsthe sample surface until a predefined threshold point, measures the Z scanner’s height, then it rapidly retracts. The XY scanner stops during the electric current acquisition, and the contact time is controlled to assure enoughtime for quality data acquisition. PinPoint Conductive AFM allows higher spatial resolution with optimized current measurement over different sample surface; furthermore, it does not apply any lateral force thanks to the decoupled vertical movement of the Z scanner of the cantilever.

PinPoint Conductive was designed to replace the conventional contact conductive AFMand is an enhanced design that eliminates the problems of the tip wearing out during contact mode topography and diminished contact time.  Park’s PinPoint Conductive AFM enables engineers and research scientists to characterize and confirm electrical designs of semiconductor device structures with much more accuracy, precision and confidence in the data.

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