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Nanoscale Reliability Group


NANOSCALE RELIABILITY GROUP (647.05): Develops new measurement methods for predicting materials reliability when material and device dimensions are constrained at the micro- and nanoscale. Provides instrumentation, test structures, and models for evaluating the critical parameters leading to material failure, including defects, interfaces, and local variations in material properties, as well new techniques for directly evaluating reliability of thin films and nanostructures.


Analytical Transmission Scanning Electron Microscopy—This project develops low-energy transmission electron diffraction, imaging, and spectroscopy in the scanning electron microscope, to enable determinations of microscopic structure, defect types, …

AFM-Based Nanomechanics—Local mechanical-property information is essential to evaluate emerging micro- and nanoscale materials, which many manufacturers would like to leverage for their unique properties. Existing …

Thin Film and Interconnect Reliability—This project, now concluded, developed methods to evaluate the reliability of thin films and interconnects in their as-manufactured states. Such tests are particularly important for nanoscale …

  • A new form of electron diffraction has been developed for the analysis of nanoparticles and ultrathin films. Transmission electron backscatter diffraction (t-EBSD) represents a significant step in a growing trend towards the merging of transmission and scanning electron microscopies. The low energy of SEM electrons enables diffraction patterns to be obtained from particles smaller than 10 nm in diameter, enabling measurement of crystallographic characteristics that were previously difficult or impossible to measure in such structures.
R. R. Keller and R. H. Geiss, "Transmission EBSD from 10 nm domains in a scanning electron microscope," Journal of Microscopy, vol. 245, pp. 245-251 (2012).

  • Several years' worth of key developments targeting the measurement of mechanical properties of small-scale structures were summarized in a chapter for the book Micro and Nano Mechanical Testing of Materials and Devices (F. Yang and J. C. M. Li, Eds., Springer Science+Business Media, LLC). Chapter 12, entitled “Metrologies for Mechanical Response of Micro- and Nanoscale Systems,” by R. R. Keller, D. C. Hurley, D. T. Read, and P. Rice, describes the development of three measurement methods (contact-resonance AFM, microtensile testing, electrically-induced joule heating) developed by the group that are inherently sensitive to small volumes of matter (one or more dimensions less than 1 micrometer, and often in the range 10 nanometers to 100 nanometers).
  • A desktop-computer-based approach to simulating the reliability of nanostructured materials has been developed. This advance is a first step on the path to enabling industry to take full advantage of the extreme properties offered by some nanostructured materials, without requiring the often exorbitant costs associated with conventional design, prototype manufacture, destructive qualification testing, and re-work.
Nanoscale Reliability Group
Bob Keller, Group Leader

325 Broadway, MS 647
Boulder, CO 80305-3328
303-497-7651 Office
303-497-5030 Fax