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Structure and composition of thin films and multilayers deposited on conducting and non-conducting substrates were investigated by field emission SEM and windowless/UTW energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis. The systems studied included TiN and BN films and Ti-BN and Hf-BN multilayers on glass, silicon and stainless steel. Layer thickness varied between a few tens of nanometres and several micrometres. Accelerating voltages in the range 1-5 kV were suitable for the observation of these specimens. Atomic number contrast remained visible in the secondary electron image for accelerating voltages down to 2 kV. Backscattered composition imaging required voltages of 4 kV or greater due to detector limitations. The choice of operating conditions was found to depend critically on the electrical conductivity of both the surface layer and the substrate. The application of low voltage EDS was limited by contamination and overvoltage constraints. Serial depth profiling could in principle be carried out by stepping the acclerating voltage, but its success was largely dependent on the compositions of the various layers. The presence of heavier elements in the analysed layer or in an overlying layer generally led to significant absorption of low energy X-rays.

Additional information

Authors: RICKERBY D G, JRC Ispra (IT)
Bibliographic Reference: Paper presented: MICRO 92 - International Microscopy Conference and Exhibition, London (GB)
Availability: Available from (1) as Paper EN 36957 ORA
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