Techniques for Material Characterizations and Their Capabilities
- Practical Electron Microscopy and Database -
- An Online Book -


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The glossary in Table 3929 lists alphabetically all the techniques used for material characterizations and the subsets of the techniques. The terminology of the techniques are also listed.

Figure 3929. Techniques for material characterizations and their typical capabilities.

Technique
Probe
Signal
Analyses
Probed depth
Typical and best spatial resolution*
Sens-itivity to comp-onents
Vacuum
Instrument cost per tool
Usage
Specimen examples

Elem-ental

Che-mical state

Phase

Defect

Sur-face

Ima-ging

Lattice
Others
Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAA)
Yes
Outer atomic layers
--
--
Need
Medium
Large surface area
Atomic Absorption (AA)
Vapor Phase Decomposition-Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (VPD-AAS)
Graphite Furnace Atomic Absorption (GFAA)
 
Flame Atomic Absorption (FAA)
 
Auger electron spectroscopy (AES)
Scanning Auger Microscopy (SAM)
Electron
Electron
Yes
Yes
Yes
 
2 nm
Typical: 100 nm; Best: < 2 nm
0.1%
Need
>$330k
Extensive
All solid, but usually inorganic materials
Scanning Auger Microprobe (SAM)
Auger Electron Diffraction (AED)
Angular Distribution Auger Microscopy (ADAM)
Kinetic Energy (KE)
Cylindrical Mirror Analyzer (CMA)
Atom Inelastic Scattering (AIS)
 
Bare human eyes
Light
Light
 
Best: 10, 000 nm
Brunauer, Emmett, and Teller equation (BET)
 
Bidirectional Scattering Distribution Function (BSDF)
Bidirectional Reflective Distribution Function (BRDF)
 
Bidirectional Transmission Distribution Function (BTDF)
 
Cathodoluminescence (CL)
Electron
Photon
Yes
Yes
 
Yes
10 nm-µm
1 µm
ppm
Need
<$60k
Not common
All solids, usually semiconductors
Confocal Scanning Laser Microscope (CLSM)
 
Energy Dispersive (X-Ray) Spectroscopy (EDS)/Energy Dispersive X-Ray Spectroscopy (EDX)
Electron
Photon
Yes
Yes
 
< 1 µm
Best: 2 - 20 nm
500 ppm
Need
$150 - 400k
Medium
All solids with Z> 5
Electron
Photon
 
Best: 1, 000 nm
Extensive
Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS)
High-Resolution Electron Energy-Loss Spectroscopy (HREELS)
Electron
Electron
Yes
Yes
 
2 nm
mm
1%
Need
>$330k
Not common
All solids
Reflected Electron Energy-Loss Spectroscopy (REELS)
Yes
Yes
Yes
 
2 nm
100 nm
--
Need
Not common
All solids
Reflection Electron Energy-Loss Microscopy (REELM)
 
Low-Energy Electron-Loss Spectroscopy (LEELS)
 
Parallel (Detection) Electron Energy-Loss Spectrscopy (PEELS)
 
Extended Energy-Loss Fine Structure (EXELFS)
 
Electron Energy-Loss Fine Structure (EELFS)
 
Core Electron Energy-Loss Spectroscopy (CEELS)
 
Valence Electron Energy-Loss Spectroscopy (VEELS)
 
Electron energy-loss spectroscopy (EELS)
Yes
Yes
Yes
 
20-100 nm
Typical: 1 nm; Best: < 1 nm
Few %
Need
>$500k
Medium
All solid thin films
Electron Probe Microanalysis (EPMA)
Yes
Yes
 
1 µm
0.5 µm
100 ppm
Need
>$330k
Medium
All solids
Elastic Recoil Spectrometry (ERS)
 
Yes
1 µm
mm
0.01%
Need
Not common
Contain H
Hydrogen Forward Scattering (HFS)
 
Hydrogen Recoil Spectrometry (HRS)
 
Forward Recoil Spectrometry (FRS)
 
Elastic Recoil Detection Analysis (ERDA)
 
Elastic Recoil Detection (ERD)
 
Particle Recoil Detection (PRD)
 
Extended X-Ray Absorption Fine Structure (EXAFS)
Surface Extended X-Ray Absorption Fine Structure (SEXAFS)
Yes
Yes
 
1 nm
mm
Few %
Need
Not common
Surface & adsorbate
Near-Edge X-Ray Absorption Fine Structure (NEXAFS)
Yes
 
X-Ray Absorption Near-Edge Structure (XANES)
 
Bulk
Need or no need
All solids
X-Ray Absorption Fine Structure (XAFS)
 
Ferromagnetic Resonance (FMR)
 
    Orientation ordering, local geometric packing of atoms              
Focused ion beam (FIB)
Yes
 
5-100 nm
Need
> $ 1M
Extensive
All solids
Glow Discharge Mass Spectrometry (GDMS)
Glow Discharge Mass Spectrometry using a Quadruple Mass Analyser (GDQMS)
Yes
 
100 nm
cm
ppt-ppb
Need
>$330k

Medium

Sample forms electrode
Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry (ICP-MS)
Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP)
Yes
 
5 µm
mm
ppt
Need
$60-330k
Extensive
All solids
Laser Ablation ICP-MS (LA-ICP-MS)
 
Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission (ICP-Optical)/ICP optical emission spectrometry (ICP-OES)
Inductively Coupled Plasma (ICP)
Yes
 
5 µm
mm
ppb
Need
<$60k
Extensive
All solids
Inelastic Electron Tunneling Spectroscopy (IETS)
 
Infrared (Spectroscopy) (IR)
Fourier Transform Infra-Red (Spectroscopy) (FTIR)
Yes
Yes
 
Yes
Few µm
15-20 µm
Variable
No need
$60-330k
Extensive
All solids
Gas Chromatography FTIR (GC-FTIR)
 
 
Attenuated Total Reflection (ATR)
 
Reflection Absorption (Spectroscopy) (RA)
 
Infrared Reflection Absorption Spectroscopy (IRAS)
 
Ion Scattering Spectrometry (ISS)
Yes
 
3 Å
150 µm
50ppm-l%
Need
Not common
All elements
Light Microscopy
Yes
Yes
 
Yes
Variable
0.2 µm
No need
<$60k
Extensive
All materials
Low-Energy Ion Scattering (LEIS)
Resonance Charge Exchange (RCE)
 
Low-Energy Electron Diffraction (LEED)
Yes
Yes
 
1 nm
0.1 mm
Need
Medium
Single crystal
Local electrode atom probe (LEAP)
Ion
Ion
 
Best: < 0.1 nm
Laser lonization Mass Spectrometry (LIMS)
Yes
Yes
 
100 nm
2 µm
l-100 ppm
Need
>$330k
Medium
All elements
Laser Microprobe Mass Analysis (LAMMA)
Photon
Ion
 
Best: 1, 000 nm
Laser Microprobe Mass Spectrometry (LAMMS)
 
Laser lonization Mass Analysis (LIMA)
Nonresonant Multi-Photon lonization (NRMPI)
 
Medium-Energy Ion Scattering Spectrometry (MEISS)
 
Medium-Energy Ion Scattering (MEIS)
Yes
Yes
Yes
 
1 nm
mm
0.1-10%
Need
>$330k
Not common
Normally single crystals
Magneto-Optic Kerr Rotation (MOKE)
Surface Magneto-Optic Kerr Rotation (SMOKE)
Yes
 
Yes
30 nm
0.5 µm
--
No need
<$60k
Medium
Magnetic films
Modulation Spectroscopy
Yes
Yes
Yes
 
Yes
1 µm
100 µm
ppm
No need
$60-330k
Not common
All solids, usually semiconductors
Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis (INAA)
 
Near Edge X-Ray Absorption Fine Structure (NEXAFS)
 
Photoelectron microscopy (PEM or PEEM)
Photon
Electron
 
Best: < 0.5 nm
X-Ray Absorption Near Edge Structure (XANES)
 
Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA)
Yes
 
Bulk
ppt-ppm
No need
$60-330k
Not common
Trace metals
Neutron diffraction
Yes
Yes
 
Bulk
No need
Not common
Crystals
Neutron Inelastic Scattering (NIS)
 
Neutron reflectivity
 
Yes
Up to mm
--
No need
Not common
Flat polymer films
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)
Magic-Angle Spinning (MAS)
Yes
Yes
Yes
 
Bulk
--
--
All solid; not all elements
Nuclear Reaction Analysis (NRA)
Yes
 
10-100 nm
10 µm
10-100 ppm
Need
Not common
Materials with Z<21
Optical Emission Spectroscopy (OES)
 
Optical Scatterometry
 
Yes
--
--
No need
<$60k
Not common in general, but common in semiconductors
Flat smooth films
Photoacoustic Spectroscopy (PAS)
 
Particle Induced X-Ray Emission (PIXE)
Yes
Yes
 
Few µm
100 µm
10 ppm
Need
>$330k
Not common
All solids
Proton-induced x-ray emission (PIXE)
Ion
Photon
 
Best: < 500 nm
Hydrogen/Helium Induced X-ray Emission (HIXE)
 
Photoluminescence (PL)
Photoluminescence Excitation (PLE)
Yes
Yes
Yes
 
Yes
Few µm
Few µm
ppb
No need
<$60k
Medium
All solids, usually semiconductors
Photoreflectance (PR)
Electron Beam Electroreflectance (EBER)
 
Reflection Difference Spectroscopy (RDS)
 
Raman Spectroscopy (Raman)
Fourier Transform Raman Spectroscopy (FT Raman)
 
Raman Scattering (RS)
Yes
Yes
 
Yes
Few µm
1 µm
Variable
No need
$60-330k
Medium
All solids
Resonant Raman Scattering (RRS)
 
Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering (CARS)
 
Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS)
 
Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy (RBS)
Ion
Ion
Yes
Yes
Yes
 
2 µm
mm; Best: ~ 1 µm
0.01-10%
Need or no need
>$330k
Medium
All materials
High-Energy Ion Scattering (HEIS)
 
Reflected High Energy Electron Diffraction (RHEED)
Scanning Reflection Electron Microscopy (SREM)
Yes
Yes
 
1 nm
0.01-0.02 mm
Need
Medium
Single crystal
Surface Analysis by Laser lonization (SALI)
Post-Ionization Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (PISIMS)
Yes
Yes
 
3 Å
100 nm
ppb-ppm
Need
>$330k
Not common
Most inorganic
Multi-Photon Nonresonant Post lonization (MPNRPI)
 
Multiphoton Resonant Post lonization (MRRPI)
 
Resonant Post lonization (RPI)
 
Multi-Photon lonization (MPI)
 
Single-Photon lonization (SPI)
 
Sputter-Initiated Resonance lonization Spectroscopy (SIRIS)
 
Surface Analysis by Resonant lonization Spectroscopy (SARIS)
 
Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer (TOFMS)
 
Scanning Electron Microscopy/Scanning Electron Microprobe/Secondary Electron Miscroscopy (SEM)
Secondary Electron (SE)
Electron
Electron
Yes
Yes
 
sub µm
Typical: 2- 10 nm; Best: < 10 nm
Need
$60-330k
Extensive
Conductors, metal-coated insulators
Backscattered Electron (BSE)
Secondary Electron Microscopy with Polarization Analysis (SEMPA)
Scanning Force Microscopy (SFM)
Yes
Yes
Yes
 
sub Å
1 nm
No need
$60-330k
Medium
All solids
Scanning thermal microscopy (SThM) or scanning near-field thermal microscopy (SNThM)
Constant current SNThM
                                 
Constant temperature SNThM
                                 
Scanning thermal profiler (SThP)
                                 
Tunneling thermometer (TT)
                                 
Scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM)
Direct mode SECM
                                 
Feedback mode SECM
                                 
Generation/collection mode SECM
                                 
Scanning reference electrode technique (SRET)
                                 
Scanning vibrating electrode technique (SVET)
                                 
Scanning photoelectrochemical microscopy (SPECM)
                                 
Scanning electrochemical induced desorption (SECMID)
                                 
Scanning micropipette microscopy (SMM)
Scanning micropipette molecule microscopy (SMMM)
                                 
Scanning ion conductance microscopy (SICM)
                                 
Scanning of near-field acoustic microscopy (SNAM)
                                 
Scanning Probe Microscopy (SPM)
Contact mode (CM) or atomic force microscopy (AFM)
                                 
Electric force microscopy (EFM) or scanning maxwell stress microscopy (SMM)
                                 
DC (direct current) - Magnetic force microscopy (MFM)
                                 
AC (alternating current) - Magnetic force microscopy (MFM)
                                 
AC - Piezoresponse force microscopy (PFM)
 
DC - Constant height AFM
                                 
DC - Constant force AFM
                                 
DC - Lateral force microscopy (LFM) or friction force microscopy (FFM)
                                 
DC - Scanning chemical force microscopy (SCFM)
                                 
DC - Conducting atomic force microscopy (C-AFM)
                                 
DC - Scanning voltage microscopy (SVM)
                                 
DC - Scanning spreading resistance microscopy (SSRM)
                                 
DC - Contact scanning capacitance microscopy (CM-SCM)
                                 
DC - Contact error AFM
                                 
AC - Contact EFM
                                 
AC - Atomic force acoustic microscopy (AFAM)
                                 
AC - Young's modulus microscopy (YMM) or force modulation microscopy (FMM)
                                 
Tapping mode AFM (TM-AFM) or intermittent contact (IC-AFM)
                                 
TM - Phase imaging AFM
                                 
TM error AFM
                                 
TM scanning capacitance microscopy (TM-SCM)
                                 
Non-contact mode SFM (NC-SFM)
                                 
Scanning surface potential microscopy (SSPM)
                                 
Scanning kelvin microscopy (SKM) or Kelvin probe microscopy (KPM)
                                 
Non-contact scanning capacitance microscopy (NC-SCM)
                                 
van der Waals force microscopy (VDWFM) or scanning attractive mode force microscopy (SAFM)
                                 
Frequency modulation scanning force microscopy (FM-SFM)
                                 
Dissipation force microscopy
                                 
Scanning near-field optical microscopy (SNOM) or near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM)
Shear force microscopy (ShFM)
                                 
Aperture SNOM (ASNOM)
                                 
Transmission ASNOM (T-ASNOM)
                                 
Collection ASNOM (C-ASNOM) or reflection mode
                                 
Emission ASNOM (E-ASNOM) or luminescence mode
                                 
Non-aperture SNOM (NA-SNOM)
                                 
Evanescent field SNOM (EF-SNOM) or photon scanning tunneling microscopy (PSTM) or evanescent field optical microscopy (EFOM)
                                 
Scanning near-field plasmon microscopy (SNPM) or scanning plasmon near-field microscopy (SPNM)
                                 
Scanning near-field infrared microscopy (SNIM)
                                 
Scanning near-field Raman microscopy (SNRM)
                                 
Scanning tunneling spectroscopy (STS)
I(z) spectroscopy or Local barrier height spectroscopy (LBHS)
                                 
I(V) spectroscopy
                               
Spin-polarized scanning tunneling spectroscopy (SPSTS)
                               
Phonon spectroscopy by inelastic electron tunneling (IET)
                               
Photoassisted tunneling spectroscopy (SFES)
                               
Tunneling-induced luminescence spectroscopy (TILS)
                               
Ballistic electron emission spectroscopy (BEES)
                               
Scanning field emission spectroscopy (SFES)
                               
Scanning force spectroscopy (SFS)
Force-distance curves
                                 
Amplitude-distance curves
                               
Phase-distance curves
                               
Frequency-distance curves
                               
Kelvin probe spectroscopy
                               
Scanning capacitance spectroscopy
                               
Full-resonance spectroscopy (FRS)
                               
AFAM resonance spectroscopy (AFAM-RS)
                               
Scanning spreading resistance spectroscopy (SSRS)
                               
Scanning near-field optical microscopy (SNOM) or near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM)
Scanning near-field luminescence spectroscopy (SNLS)
                                 
Scanning near-field Raman spectroscopy (SNRS)
                                 
Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS)
Dynamic Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (Dynamic SIMS)
Ion
Ion
Yes
Yes
 
2 nm
1 µm
ppb-ppm
Need
>$330k
Extensive
All solids, mostly semiconductors
Static Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (Static SIMS)
Yes
Yes
Yes
3 Å
100 µm
Few %
Need
>$330k
Medium
All, but mostly polymer
SIMS using a Quadruple Mass Spectrometer (Q-SIMS)
SIMS using a Magnetic Sector Mass Spectrometer (Magnetic SIMS)
Sector SIMS (Magnetic SIMS)
SIMS using Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer (TOF-SIMS)
Post lonization SIMS (PISIMS)
Sputtered Neutrals Mass Spectrometry/Secondary Neutrals Mass Spectrometry (SNMS)
Direct Bombardment Electron Gas SNMS (SNMSd)
Yes
 
~2 nm
cm
50 ppm
Need
$60-330k
Medium
Flat conductors
Spark Source Mass Spectrometry (SSMS/Spark Source)
Yes
 
3 µm
cm
0.05 ppm
Need
Medium
Sample forms electrode
Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (STM)
Constant current STM
    Yes Yes Yes     sub Å 1 Å   No need
$60-330k
Not common
Conductors
Constant height STM
       
Current imaging tunneling spectroscopy (CITS)
 
     
Electrochemical scanning tunneling microscopy (ESTM)
 
     
Scanning noise microscopy (SNM)
 
     
Scanning tunneling potentiometry (STP)
 
     
Scanning noise potentiometry (SNP)
 
     
Alternating current STM (ACSTM)
 
     
Scanning chemical potential microscopy (SCPM)
 
     
Scanning optical absorption microscopy (SOAM)
 
     
Spin polarized STM (SPSTM)
 
     
Ballistic electron emission microscopy (BEEM)
 
     
Photon emission STM (PESTM) or scanning tunneling optical microscopy (STOM)
 
     
Photon assisted STM (PASTM) or laser assisted STM (LASTM)
 
     
Scanning field emission microscopy (SFEM)
 
     
Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)
Conventional Transmission Electron Microscopy (CTEM)
Electron
Electron
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
 
1 - 200 nm
5 nm - µm
Need
$ 1 -3 M
Not common for most materials, but extensive for nano-structures and defects
All solids with thicknesses of less than 200 nm
Bright field (BF)- Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (STEM)
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
 
100-200 nm
Best: < 0.1 nm
Yes
 
High Resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy (HRTEM)
Yes
Selected Area Diffraction (SAD)
 
Best: 10 - 1000 nm
Analytical Electron Microscopy (AEM)
 
Convergent Beam Electron Diffraction (CBED)
 
Best: 10 - 1000 nm
Lorentz Transmission Electron Microscopy (LTEM)
 
Thermal Energy Atom Scattering (TEAS)
 
Thin Layer Chromatography (TLC)
 
Tandem Scanning Reflected-Light Microscope (TSRLM)
 
Tandem Scanning Reflected-Light Microscope (TSM)
 
Ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopy (UPS)
Photon
Electron
Yes
Yes
 
1 nm
Typical: mm; Best: < 1, 000 nm
Need
Not common
All solids
Molecular Photoelectron Spectroscopy (MPS)
 
Variable Angle Spectroscopic Ellipsometry (VASE)
 
Yes
1 µm
cm
--
No need
$60-330k
Not common
Flat thin films
Wavelength Dispersive (X-Ray) Spectroscopy (WDS/WDX)
Electron
Photon
Yes
 
0.01 - 0.1%
Need
<$60k
Not common
All solids
X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS)
Photon
Electron
Yes
Yes
 
3 nm
Typical: 150 µm; Best: 5 – 10 nm
1%
Need
>$330k
Extensive
All solids
Electron Spectroscopy for Chemical Analysis (ESCA)
X-Ray Photoelectron Diffraction (XPD)
Yes
Yes
Yes
 
3 nm
150 µm
1%
Need
>$330k
Not common
Single crystal
Photoelectron Diffraction (PHD)
 
Kinetic Energy (KE)
 
X-RayDiffraction (XRD)
Grazing Incidence X-Ray Diffraction (GIXD/GIXRD)
Photon
Photon
Yes
 
10 µm
Typical: mm; Best: < 25 nm
3%
No need
$60-330k
Extensive
Crystals
Double Crystal Diffractometer (DCD)
X-Ray Fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF)
X-Ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (XFS)
Photon
Photon
Yes
 
10 µm
mm
0.1%
No need
$60-330k
Extensive
All solids
Total Reflection X-Ray Fluorescence (TXRF)
Yes
Yes
 
3 nm
cm
ppb-ppm
Need
>$330k
Not common
Trace heavy metals
Total Reflection X-Ray Fluorescence (TRXFR)
 
X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS)
Photon
Photon
 
Best: < 20 nm
X-ray emission spectroscopy (XES)
Electron
Photon
 
Best: 1.5 – 10 nm
Vapor Phase Decomposition Total X-Ray Fluorescence (WD-TXRF)
 
* The best spatial resolution is the spatial resolution limit which can be reached by the modern instruments, but it is probably not the resolution limit of your instrument.

 

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