Developers of MRAM in the Far East are taking a keen interest in the Laser 3 Dimensional Atom Probe (3DAP) from Oxford nanoScience Ltd to provide an accurate analysis method to show the atomic level structure in these complex devices.

Oxford nanoScience managing director, Richard Davies said: “The ultra- high density of these devices means that their structures are too small to be examined by even transmission electron microscopy. The Laser 3DAP, however uses a femtosecond laser to evaporate atoms sequentially from the sample before analyzing their mass and original position in the sample. The instrument literally allows us to reconstruct the sample structure atom by atom in 3 dimensions, complete with the chemical identity of each atom.”

“The MRAM structure includes GMR and TMR layers and III-V transistor structures,” he continued. “The Laser 3DAP has already been used to characterize each of these types of structures individually, so should be ideally suited to MRAM investigations. TMR structures can be analysed routinely and the presence of insulating layers presents no problems. Oxide layers as thin as 1 nm have been characterised, although significantly thicker ones can also be analysed”.

The Laser 3DAP was launched during the summer of 2005 and has attracted a huge amount of interest from the semiconductor industry in general, with the introduction of the laser source making the 3DAP technique applicable to semiconductor materials for the first time.