Currently, in-situ growth morphology characterization is performed by diffraction techniques such as Reflection High Energy Electron Diffraction (RHEED). We have now realized a unique system, in which Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) can be performed during Pulsed Laser Deposition (PLD). With this in-situ AFM island densities and sizes can be measured at deposition conditions.
Thin film formation and force microscopy are performed in one vacuum chamber and via a fast transfer (in the order of seconds) the surface of a sample can be scanned. In our system we take advantage of the pulsed deposition process, because microscopy measurements can be carried out between the pulses. This provides real-time morphology information on the microscopic scale during growth at deposition conditions. A new transfer-& approach mechanism allows fast switching between microscopy and deposition with a re-position accuracy of ±500 nm. Since PLD is often done at elevated temperatures a special low thermal mass heater is developed to scan with AFM at deposition conditions with sample temperatures up to 800ºC. To further enhance this system and obtain the ideal growth analyzing chamber in which in-situ real-space imaging, diffraction and deposition techniques are combined, this system is designed to be edited on an existing RHEED equipped PLD-system in the future.
Click here for the movie and see the process at work!
This project is performed by Joska Broekmaat.
Photos and film by Jeroen Huijben.