Dopant mapping in thin FIB prepared silicon samples by Off-Axis Electron Holography

Adi Pantzer, Atsmon Vakahy, Zohar Eliyahou, George Levi, Dror Horvitz, Amit Kohn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Modern semiconductor devices function due to accurate dopant distribution. Off-Axis Electron Holography (OAEH) in the transmission electron microscope (TEM) can map quantitatively the electrostatic potential in semiconductors with high spatial resolution. For the microelectronics industry, ongoing reduction of device dimensions, 3D device geometry, and failure analysis of specific devices require preparation of thin TEM samples, under 70. nm thick, by focused ion beam (FIB). Such thicknesses, which are considerably thinner than the values reported to date in the literature, are challenging due to FIB induced damage and surface depletion effects.Here, we report on preparation of TEM samples of silicon PN junctions in the FIB completed by low-energy (5. keV) ion milling, which reduced amorphization of the silicon to 10. nm thick. Additional perpendicular FIB sectioning enabled a direct measurement of the TEM sample thickness in order to determine accurately the crystalline thickness of the sample. Consequently, we find that the low-energy milling also resulted in a negligible thickness of electrically inactive regions, approximately 4. nm thick. The influence of TEM sample thickness, FIB induced damage and doping concentrations on the accuracy of the OAEH measurements were examined by comparison to secondary ion mass spectrometry measurements as well as to 1D and 3D simulations of the electrostatic potentials. We conclude that for TEM samples down to 100. nm thick, OAEH measurements of Si-based PN junctions, for the doping levels examined here, resulted in quantitative mapping of potential variations, within ~0.1. V. For thinner TEM samples, down to 20. nm thick, mapping of potential variations is qualitative, due to a reduced accuracy of ~0.3. V.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-45
Number of pages10
StatePublished - Mar 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Dopant mapping
  • Focused ion beam
  • Off-Axis Electron Holography
  • Silicon PN junction
  • TEM sample preparation


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