Calibration of high-resolution X-ray tomography with atomic force microscopy

Andrew R. Kalukin*, Barry Winn, Yuxin Wang, Chris Jacobsen, Zachary H. Levine, Joseph Fu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


For two-dimensional x-ray imaging of thin films, the technique of scanning transmission x-ray microscopy (STXM) has achieved images with feature sizes as small as 40 nm in recent years. However, calibration of three-dimensional tomographic images that are produced with STXM data at this scale has not yet been described in the scientific literature, and the calibration procedure has novel problems that have not been encountered by x-ray tomography carried out at a larger scale. In x-ray microtomography, for example, one always has the option of using optical imaging on a section of the object to verify the x-ray projection measurements; with STXM, on the other hand, the sample features are too small to be resolved by light at optical wavelengths. This fact implies that one must rely on procedures with higher resolution, such as atomic force microscopy (AFM), for the calibration. Such procedures, however, generally depend on a highly destructive sectioning of the sample, and are difficult to interpret because they give surface information rather than depth information. In this article, a procedure for calibration is described that overcomes these limitations and achieves a calibration of an STXM tomography image with an AFM image and a scanning electron microscopy image of the same object. A Ge star-shaped pattern was imaged at a synchrotron with a scanning transmission x-ray microscope. Nineteen high-resolution projection images of 200×200 pixels were tomographically reconstructed into a three-dimensional image. Features in two-dimensional images as small as 40 nm and features as small as 80 nm in the three-dimensional reconstruction were resolved. Transverse length scales based on atomic force microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, x-ray transmission and tomographic reconstruction agreed to within 10 nm. Toward the center of the sample, the pattern thickness calculated from projection images was (51 ± 15) nm vs (80 ± 52) nm for tomographic reconstruction, where the uncertainties are evaluated at the level of two standard deviations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)867-874
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Research of the National Institute of Standards and Technology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2000


  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Scanning electron microscope
  • X-ray microscopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Calibration of high-resolution X-ray tomography with atomic force microscopy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this