U.S. scientists are using a new form of scanning microscopy to simultaneously study physical and electronic profiles of metal nanostructures.
Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and University of Colorado-Boulder say the new instrument — the scanning photoionization microscope — is expected to be particularly useful for analyzing the make-up and properties of nanoscale electronics and nanoparticles.
The scientists said the instrument combines the high spatial resolution of optical microscopy with the high sensitivity to subtle electrical activity made possible by detecting the low-energy electrons emitted by a material as it is illuminated with laser pulses.
The technique potentially could be used to make pictures of both electronic and physical patterns in devices such as nanostructured transistors or electrode sensors, or to identify chemicals or even elements in such structures.
“You make images by virtue of how readily electrons are photoejected from a material,” said NIST fellow David Nesbitt, leader of the research group. “The method is in its infancy, but nevertheless it really does have the power to provide a new set of eyes for looking at nanostructured metals and semiconductors.”
The instrument is described in the journal Chemical Physics.
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