Neutron visualization of inhomogeneous buried interfaces in thin films View Full Text


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Article Info

DATE

2019-12

AUTHORS

Kenji Sakurai, Jinxing Jiang, Mari Mizusawa, Takayoshi Ito, Kazuhiro Akutsu, Noboru Miyata

ABSTRACT

When designing some functions in thin film systems, one of the key concepts is the structure of the constituent layers and interfaces. In an actual system, the layers and interfaces are often inhomogeneous in different scales, from hundreds of microns to several nanometers, causing differences in properties, despite very similar average structures. In this case, the choice of the observation point is critical to clarify the problem. Another critical aspect is the identification of these points by surveying the entire inhomogeneous thin film system. This article presents a description of a novel promising solution that is suitable for nondestructive visualization of inhomogeneous buried layers and interfaces in thin films. Such observations have been impossible until now. In this investigation, a unique extension of neutron reflectometry is proposed. While conventional neutron reflectivity just gives average depth-profiling of the scattering length density of layered thin films, the present method provides full picture of the inhomogeneity. In general, achieving a high spatial-resolving power for neutron scattering is not straightforward because the neutron counts become fairly limited at the sample or the detector position when the beam size is reduced. As a result, XY scanning of a sample with a small neutron beam is fairly difficult because of the required long measurement time. To address these issues, new concepts have been introduced for neutron reflectivity. The proposed method uses a wide beam instead of reducing the beam size. In addition, it measures the projection reflection profile instead of the total integrated intensity. These profiles are collected at a set of different in-plane angles. Similar to computed tomography, it is possible to obtain the specimen's two-dimensional (2D) neutron reflectivity distribution as one image. Because the spatial resolution is limited by the detection method, a Hadamard coded mask is employed to measure the reflection projection with only 50% loss of the primary neutron intensity. When the time-of-flight (ToF) mode is used for the neutron experiment, one can obtain many images as a function of ToF, i.e., the wavevector transfer. Such series of images can be displayed as a video. This indicates that the neutron reflectivity profiles of local points can be retrieved from the above video images. This paper presents the first report on the development of neutron reflectivity with imaging capability, and the analysis of local points in inhomogeneous layered thin-films without utilizing a small neutron beam. In the present work, the feasibility of the proposed method with approximately 1 mm spatial resolution was examined. In addition, further improvements of the approach are discussed. It is anticipated that this technique will facilitate new opportunities in the study of buried function interfaces. More... »

PAGES

571

Identifiers

URI

http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1038/s41598-018-37094-5

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-37094-5

DIMENSIONS

https://app.dimensions.ai/details/publication/pub.1111650728

PUBMED

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30679617


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41 schema:description When designing some functions in thin film systems, one of the key concepts is the structure of the constituent layers and interfaces. In an actual system, the layers and interfaces are often inhomogeneous in different scales, from hundreds of microns to several nanometers, causing differences in properties, despite very similar average structures. In this case, the choice of the observation point is critical to clarify the problem. Another critical aspect is the identification of these points by surveying the entire inhomogeneous thin film system. This article presents a description of a novel promising solution that is suitable for nondestructive visualization of inhomogeneous buried layers and interfaces in thin films. Such observations have been impossible until now. In this investigation, a unique extension of neutron reflectometry is proposed. While conventional neutron reflectivity just gives average depth-profiling of the scattering length density of layered thin films, the present method provides full picture of the inhomogeneity. In general, achieving a high spatial-resolving power for neutron scattering is not straightforward because the neutron counts become fairly limited at the sample or the detector position when the beam size is reduced. As a result, XY scanning of a sample with a small neutron beam is fairly difficult because of the required long measurement time. To address these issues, new concepts have been introduced for neutron reflectivity. The proposed method uses a wide beam instead of reducing the beam size. In addition, it measures the projection reflection profile instead of the total integrated intensity. These profiles are collected at a set of different in-plane angles. Similar to computed tomography, it is possible to obtain the specimen's two-dimensional (2D) neutron reflectivity distribution as one image. Because the spatial resolution is limited by the detection method, a Hadamard coded mask is employed to measure the reflection projection with only 50% loss of the primary neutron intensity. When the time-of-flight (ToF) mode is used for the neutron experiment, one can obtain many images as a function of ToF, i.e., the wavevector transfer. Such series of images can be displayed as a video. This indicates that the neutron reflectivity profiles of local points can be retrieved from the above video images. This paper presents the first report on the development of neutron reflectivity with imaging capability, and the analysis of local points in inhomogeneous layered thin-films without utilizing a small neutron beam. In the present work, the feasibility of the proposed method with approximately 1 mm spatial resolution was examined. In addition, further improvements of the approach are discussed. It is anticipated that this technique will facilitate new opportunities in the study of buried function interfaces.
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