Are you an expert electron microscopist with EDS experience? Being an expert means interpreting results from your data. This is especially important in electron microscopy, when several competing physical interactions can all affect the reported results, sometimes resulting in misleading conclusions in the data.
Do you ever find yourself explaining the vagaries behind EDS data to non-experts? Have you ever found yourself saying, “It could be this, but it might that?” What if your EDS software allowed you to clearly display the unambiguous data to your customers without guessing at what the raw data is supposedly telling you?
New Thermo Scientific™ Pathfinder EDS Software helps experts communicate with their customers (either internal or external) while performing semiconductor characterization. Three common EDS analyses are presented to demonstrate key advantages of the Pathfinder EDS software when characterizing semiconductor samples.
Contamination Investigation: The first example is that of a common failure analysis – contamination after processing. In this case, micro-cavities had been contaminated with bits of … what? Using the Pathfinder software Point ID mode gives a quick characterization of particle in a microarray. A useful feature of the software is that, after analysis, a Microsoft Word report is automatically generated with one click of your mouse. No more cutting, pasting and cropping screenshots to show the relevant data. The resulting report can be sent directly to your client.
Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) Cross-section: Speaking of your customers… do they all understand how background noise and conflicting X-ray energy peaks can affect the presentation of EDS data? Probably not, which is why you’re the expert. In evaluating a cross section of an SEM image of a semiconductor device, a color x-ray map presents the distribution of elements within the sample. The problem with this example is that many elements are overlapping where we (the expert) intuitively know that certain elements should not be present despite of what the data shows. By using the Net Counts feature of the Pathfinder Alpine software, the application of peak deconvolution and background subtraction creates a map with clear and unambiguous results.
When performing EDS analysis, and especially if sparse element concentrations or low energies require a long acquisition to create a useful EDS map, sample movement (i.e., drift) can be a problem. The Pathfinder Alpine software compensates for drift without user intervention, enabling extremely detailed EDS maps to be obtained.
Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) Cross-section: In the final example, the Pathfinder software is used for x-ray element mapping on a TEM cross section. The sample exhibits not only potential peak overlaps, but also elements that are not expected in the device but instead are re-fluoresced from either the pole piece or the sample holder. The software enables the analyst to remove X-ray lines that were not from the sample itself in order to present a true representation of the material.