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Spin-coated epoxy resin embedding technique enables facile SEM/FIB thickness determination of porous metal oxide ultra-thin films

TitleSpin-coated epoxy resin embedding technique enables facile SEM/FIB thickness determination of porous metal oxide ultra-thin films
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsPEÑA, B, OWEN, GRH, DETTELBACH, KE, BERLINGUETTE, CP
JournalJournal of Microscopy
Volume270
Pagination302-308
KeywordsEpoxy resin embedding, focused ion beam, metal oxide ultrathin films, QUANTIFICATION, scanning electron microscopy, spin coating
Abstract

Summary A facile nonsubjective method was designed to measure porous nonconductive iron oxide film thickness using a combination of a focused ion beam (FIB) and scanning electron microscopy. Iron oxide films are inherently nonconductive and porous, therefore the objective of this investigation was to optimize a methodology that would increase the conductivity of the film to facilitate high resolution imaging with a scanning electron microscopy and to preserve the porous nature of the film that could potentially be damaged by the energy of the FIB. Sputter coating the sample with a thin layer of iridium before creating the cross section with the FIB decreased sample charging and drifting, but differentiating the iron layer from the iridium coating with backscattered electron imaging was not definitive, making accurate assumptions of the delineation between the two metals difficult. Moreover, the porous nature of the film was lost due to beam damage following the FIB process. A thin layer plastication technique was therefore used to embed the porous film in epoxy resin that would provide support for the film during the FIB process. However, the thickness of the resin created using conventional thin layer plastication processing varied across the sample, making the measuring process only possible in areas where the resin layer was at its thinnest. Such variation required navigating the area for ideal milling areas, which increased the subjectivity of the process. We present a method to create uniform thin resin layers, of controlled thickness, that are ideal for quantifying the thickness of porous nonconductive films with FIB/scanning electron microscopy.

URLhttps://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/jmi.12683
DOI10.1111/jmi.12683