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Characterization of small-scale surface topography using transmission electron microscopy

Khanal, Subarna and Gujrati, Abhijeet and Vishnubhotla, Sai Bharadwaj and Nowakowski, Pawel and Bonifacio, Cecile and Pastewka, Lars and Jacobs, Tevis D. B. (2018) Characterization of small-scale surface topography using transmission electron microscopy. Surface Topography: Metrology and Properties, 6 (4). 045004. ISSN 2051-672X

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Multi-scale surface topography is critical to surface function, yet the very smallest scales are not accessible with conventional measurement techniques. Here we demonstrate two separate approaches for measuring small-scale topography in a transmission electron microscope (TEM). The first technique harnesses “conventional” methods for preparation of a TEM cross-section, and presents how these methods may be modified to ensure the preservation of the original surface. The second technique involves the deposition of the material of interest on a pre-fabricated substrate. Both techniques enable the observation and quantification of surface topography with Ångström-scale resolution. Then, using electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS) to quantify the sample thickness, we demonstrate that there is no systematic effect of thickness on the statistical measurements of roughness. This result was verified using mathematical simulations of artificial surfaces with varying thickness. The proposed explanation is that increasing the side-view thickness of a randomly rough surface may change which specific features are sampled, but does not significantly alter the character (e.g., root-mean-square (RMS) values and power spectral density (PSD)) of the measured topography. Taken together, this work establishes a new approach to topography characterization, which fills in a critical gap in conventional approaches: i.e., the measurement of smallest-scale topography.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Khanal, Subarnasrk68@pitt.edusrk68
Gujrati, Abhijeetabg30@pitt.eduabg30
Vishnubhotla, Sai BharadwajSAV40@pitt.edusav40
Jacobs, Tevis D. B.tjacobs@pitt.edutjacobs0000-0001-8576-914X
Date: 24 October 2018
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Surface Topography: Metrology and Properties
Volume: 6
Number: 4
Publisher: IOP
Page Range: 045004
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1088/2051-672x/aae5b3
Schools and Programs: Swanson School of Engineering > Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Surface topography; Surface roughness metrics; Transmission electron microscopy (TEM); TEM sample preparation; Self-affinity; Power spectral density (PSD)
ISSN: 2051-672X
Official URL:
Article Type: Research Article
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2019 19:44
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2019 05:15


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