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Open Access Nano Express

Atomic characterization of Si nanoclusters embedded in SiO2 by atom probe tomography

Manuel Roussel1*, Etienne Talbot1, Fabrice Gourbilleau2 and Philippe Pareige1

Author Affiliations

1 Groupe de Physique des Matériaux, Université et INSA de Rouen, UMR CNRS 6634, Av. de l'université, BP 12, 76801 Saint Etienne du Rouvray, France

2 Centre de Recherche sur les Ions, les Matériaux et la Photonique (CIMAP), CEA/CNRS/ENSICAEN/UCBN, 6 Bd. Maréchal Juin, 14050 Caen Cedex 4, France

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Nanoscale Research Letters 2011, 6:164  doi:10.1186/1556-276X-6-164

Published: 23 February 2011


Silicon nanoclusters are of prime interest for new generation of optoelectronic and microelectronics components. Physical properties (light emission, carrier storage...) of systems using such nanoclusters are strongly dependent on nanostructural characteristics. These characteristics (size, composition, distribution, and interface nature) are until now obtained using conventional high-resolution analytic methods, such as high-resolution transmission electron microscopy, EFTEM, or EELS. In this article, a complementary technique, the atom probe tomography, was used for studying a multilayer (ML) system containing silicon clusters. Such a technique and its analysis give information on the structure at the atomic level and allow obtaining complementary information with respect to other techniques. A description of the different steps for such analysis: sample preparation, atom probe analysis, and data treatment are detailed. An atomic scale description of the Si nanoclusters/SiO2 ML will be fully described. This system is composed of 3.8-nm-thick SiO layers and 4-nm-thick SiO2 layers annealed 1 h at 900°C.