Electrical characterization of FIB processed metal layers for reliable conductive-AFM on ZnO microstructures

M. Pea, L. Maiolo, E. Giovine, A. Rinaldi, R. Araneo, A. Notargiacomo

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We report on the conductive-atomic force microscopy (C-AFM) study of metallic layers in order to find the most suitable configuration for electrical characterization of individual ZnO micro-pillars fabricated by focused ion beam (FIB). The electrical resistance between the probe tip and both as deposited and FIB processed metal layers (namely, Cr, Ti, Au and Al) has been investigated. Both chromium and titanium evidenced a non homogenous and non ohmic behaviour, non negligible scanning probe induced anodic oxidation associated to electrical measurements, and after FIB milling they exhibited significantly higher tip-sample resistance. Aluminium had generally a more apparent non conductive behaviour. Conversely, gold films showed very good tip-sample conduction properties being less sensitive to FIB processing than the other investigated metals. We found that a reliable C-AFM electrical characterization of ZnO microstructures obtained by FIB machining is feasible by using a combination of metal films as top contact layer. An Au/Ti bilayer on top of ZnO was capable to sustain the FIB fabrication process and to form a suitable ohmic contact to the semiconductor, allowing for reliable C-AFM measurement. To validate the consistency of this approach, we measured the resistance of ZnO micropillars finding a linear dependence on the pillar height, as expected for an ohmic conductor, and evaluated the resistivity of the material. This procedure has the potential to be downscaled to nanometer size structures by a proper choice of metal films type and thickness.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)83 - 90
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Surface Science
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2016
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films

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