Preparation of nanowire specimens for laser-assisted atom probe tomography

H. Blumtritt*, D. Isheim, S. Senz, D. N. Seidman, O. Moutanabbir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The availability of reliable and well-engineered commercial instruments and data analysis software has led to development in recent years of robust and ergonomic atom-probe tomographs. Indeed, atom-probe tomography (APT) is now being applied to a broader range of materials classes that involve highly important scientific and technological problems in materials science and engineering. Dual-beam focused-ion beam microscopy and its application to the fabrication of APT microtip specimens have dramatically improved the ability to probe a variety of systems. However, the sample preparation is still challenging especially for emerging nanomaterials such as epitaxial nanowires which typically grow vertically on a substrate through metal-catalyzed vapor phase epitaxy. The size, morphology, density, and sensitivity to radiation damage are the most influential parameters in the preparation of nanowire specimens for APT. In this paper, we describe a step-by-step process methodology to allow a precisely controlled, damage-free transfer of individual, short silicon nanowires onto atom probe microposts. Starting with a dense array of tiny nanowires and using focused ion beam, we employed a sequence of protective layers and markers to identify the nanowire to be transferred and probed while protecting it against Ga ions during lift-off processing and tip sharpening. Based on this approach, high-quality three-dimensional atom-by-atom maps of single aluminum-catalyzed silicon nanowires are obtained using a highly focused ultraviolet laser-assisted local electrode atom probe tomograph.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number435704
Issue number43
StatePublished - Oct 31 2014


  • atom probe tomography
  • focused ion beam
  • nanowire

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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