Price, Duncan M.; Reading, Mike; Hammiche, Azzedine; Pollock; Hubert M.; Thermal Conductivity Imaging using the Atomic Force Microscope. Proc. 28th North American Thermal Analysis Society Conference, October 4-6 (2000) Orlando, Florida, USA, pp. 585-590

Scanning thermal microscopy employs a miniature temperature sensor such as a thermocouple or resistance thermometer in place of the conventional inert sharp tip used in atomic force microscopy. This can be rastered over the surface of a specimen to map its temperature distribution in a purely passive mode in order to detect hot spots in semiconductor devices. By controlling the tip's temperature (either by illuminating the tip with a laser or by Joule heating arising from passing a current through the tip) the heat flow from the tip to the surface can be used to obtain images whose contrast depends upon the specimen's thermal transport properties (thermal conductivity and thermal diffusivity). AC heating of the tip affords a means to perform 3 dimensional tomographic imaging of the sample due to the thermal diffusion length of the evanescent temperature wave being dependent on its frequency. Applications and limitations of the technique are discussed along with progress towards quantitative measurement of thermal properties using this approach.

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