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Measurement of the displacement field of dislocations to 0.03 Å by electron microscopy


Defects and their associated long-range strain fields are of considerable importance in many areas of materials science1,2. For example, a major challenge facing the semiconductor industry is to understand the influence of defects on device operation, a task made difficult by the fact that their interactions with charge carriers can occur far from defect cores, where the influence of the defect is subtle and difficult to quantify3,4. The accurate measurement of strain around defects would therefore allow more detailed understanding of how strain fields affect small structures—in particular their electronic, mechanical and chemical properties—and how such fields are modified when confined to nanometre-sized volumes. Here we report the measurement of displacements around an edge dislocation in silicon using a combination of high-resolution electron microscopy and image analysis inherited from optical interferometry. The agreement of our observations with anisotropic elastic theory calculations is better than 0.03 Å. Indeed, the results can be considered as an experimental verification of anisotropic theory at the near-atomic scale. With the development of nanostructured materials and devices, we expect the use of electron microscopy as a metrological tool for strain analysis to become of increasing importance.

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Figure 1: Geometric phase analysis of an edge dislocation seen end-on in silicon.
Figure 2: Experimental and theoretical displacement fields.
Figure 3: Sinusoidal component of the displacement field.
Figure 4: Angular variation of displacement field.


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This work was carried out as part of a CNRS funded European network (GDR-E) “Quantification and measurement in transmission electron microscopy”, involving laboratories in France, the UK, Germany and Switzerland. M.J.H. would like to thank M. Nowak for help with the elastic theory calculations.

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Correspondence to Martin J. Hÿtch.

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Hÿtch, M., Putaux, JL. & Pénisson, JM. Measurement of the displacement field of dislocations to 0.03 Å by electron microscopy. Nature 423, 270–273 (2003).

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