The de­vel­op­ment of high-res­o­lu­tion ther­mo­me­try tech­niques is es­sen­tial for un­der­stand­ing lo­cal ther­mal non-equi­li­bri­um pro­ces­ses in many scaled de­vices for logic, stor­age and ener­gy con­ver­sion.

—IBM scientist Bernd Gotsmann

Imaging temperature fields at the nanoscale is a central challenge in various areas of science and technology. Nanoscopic hot spots, such as those observed in integrated circuits or plasmonic nanostructures, can locally modify the properties of matter, govern physical processes, and activate chemical reactions.

Specifically, future transistors are expected to be subject to serious self-heating problems. In these devices, heat has to be dissipated across many interfaces of dissimilar materials, such as semiconductors, metals and oxides. As thermal impedance mismatches between adjacent materials and confined geometries (thin films, nanowires) limit thermal transport, device-level thermal design has become necessary.

We have developed temperature mapping techniques based on scanning thermal microscopy to measure the self-heating of nanodevices with resolutions in the nanometer regime.


Local thermometry

Local thermometry of self-heated nanoscale devices

F. Menges et al.
2016 IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM), 15.8.1-15.8.4, 2016.

Hot spots with dimensions of only a few nano-meters form in numerous nanoelectronic devices. Based on recent advances in spatial resolution, these hotspots can now be studied by means of Scanning Thermal Microscopy (SThM). Here, we discuss SThM for nanoscale thermometry in comparison with other established thermometry techniques. In situ measurements of semiconductor channels for logic, and phase change memory devices are used to demonstrate today’s measurement capabilities. Temperature fields characterize not only energy dissipation in intact devices but can also serve to identify device failure and fabrication issues.

Nanoscale thermometry by scanning thermal microscopy

Nanoscale thermometry by scanning thermal microscopy

F. Menges et al.
Review of Scientific Instruments 87(7) 074902, 2016.

Measuring temperature is a central challenge in nanoscience and technology. Addressing this challenge, we report the development of a high-vacuum scanning thermal microscope and a method for non-equilibrium scanning probe thermometry. The microscope is built inside an electromagnetically shielded, temperature-stabilized laboratory and features nanoscopic spatial resolution at sub-nanoWatt heat flux sensitivity. We characterize the microscope’s performance and demonstrate the benefits of the new thermometry approach by studying hot spots near lithographically defined constrictions in a self-heated metal interconnect.

Schematic of the thermoresistive scanning probe

Temperature mapping of operating nanoscale devices by scanning probe thermometry

F. Menges et al.
Nature Communications 7, 2016.

Imaging temperature fields at the nanoscale is a central challenge in various areas of science and technology. Nanoscopic hotspots, such as those observed in integrated circuits or plasmonic nanostructures, can be used to modify the local properties of matter, govern physical processes, activate chemical reactions and trigger biological mechanisms in living organisms.

Scanning probe thermometry of nanosystems

Scanning probe thermometry of nanosystems

F. Menges
Dissertation Nr. 22445, ETH Zurich, 2015.

The thesis reports on the development of a high vacuum scanning thermal microscope and methods for nanoscale thermometry. The instrument and the techniques are applied to quantify thermal transport across graphene layers, the temperature of nanoscopic hot spots in self/heated interconnects as well as Joule and Peltier effects at metal contacts to indium arsenide nanowires.


Heat dissipation and thermometry in nanosystems: When interfaces dominate

B. Gotsmann et al.
71st Annual Device Research Conference (DRC), 231-232, 2013.

A comparative study of self heating of InAs nanowires using scanning thermal microscopy, self-sensing and MEMS-based heater-sensors.


Quantitative Thermometry of Nanoscale Hot Spots

F. Menges et al.
Nano Letters 12(2) 596-601, 2012.

A method is described to quantify thermal conductance and temperature distributions with nanoscale resolution using scanning thermal microscopy. The method is demonstrated using self-heating of silicon nanowires and diodes.

Projects & collaborations

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Multidomain Platform for Integrated More-than-Moore/Beyond CMOS Systems Characterisation & Diagnostics

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CarbON Nanotube compositE InterconneCTs

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Swiss National Science Foundation

Ask the experts

Bernd Gotsmann

Bernd Gotsmann

IBM Research scientist

Fabian Koenemann

Fabian Koenemann

IBM Research scientist