Micromachined Chip Scale Thermal Sensor for Thermal Imaging

The lateral resolution of scanning thermal microscopy (SThM) has hitherto never approached that of mainstream atomic force microscopy, mainly due to poor performance of the thermal sensor. Herein, we report a nanomechanical system-based thermal sensor (thermocouple) that enables high lateral resolution that is often required in nanoscale thermal characterization in a wide range of applications. This thermocouple-based probe technology delivers excellent lateral resolution (∼20 nm), extended high-temperature measurements >700 °C without cantilever bending, and thermal sensitivity (∼0.04 °C). The origin of significantly improved figures-of-merit lies in the probe design that consists of a hollow silicon tip integrated with a vertically oriented thermocouple sensor at the apex (low thermal mass) which interacts with the sample through a metallic nanowire (50 nm diameter), thereby achieving high lateral resolution. The efficacy of this approach to SThM is demonstrated by imaging embedded metallic nanostructures in silica core–shell, metal nanostructures coated with polymer films, and metal–polymer interconnect structures. The nanoscale pitch and extremely small thermal mass of the probe promise significant improvements over existing methods and wide range of applications in several fields including semiconductor industry, biomedical imaging, and data storage.
metallic nanostructures, nanomechanical thermal sensor, STHm, temperature mapping, thermal conductivity mapping, thermal imaging, VertiSense
Shekhawat, G. S., Ramachandran, S., Jiryaei Sharahi, H., Sarkar, S., Hujsak, K., Li, Y., ... & Dravid, V. P. (2018). Micromachined Chip Scale Thermal Sensor for Thermal Imaging. ACS nano, 12(2), 1760-1767.