CHALLENGES is focused on broadening the scope of AFM techniques useable in semiconductor manufacturing by implementing suitable plasmonic-based technologies to bring in industrial environments the capabilities of optical spectroscopies at the nanoscale, already demonstrated at lab level. Such composite and hybrid measurement techniques will enable new applications for the already proven industrial AFM-based characterization technologies. Signal amplification by localized plasmon resonance at a sharp AFM tip will allow improving both the spatial resolution well beyond the optical diffraction limit and the local signal intensity with an improvement of the signal/noise ratio.
Improvements are also expected concerning the time scale resolving capabilities. The improvement of the spatial resolution will allow to obtain nanoscale spectral maps, compatible with the size of the current electronic devices, while the improved signal-to-noise ratio will allow for a faster and reliable punctual analysis.
The final goal is to develop nanoscale metrological NDTs based on SPM platforms, for doping, annealing, metal contamination, dangling bonds presence and strain measurement directly within the production lines with real-time capabilities.