Influence of surface relaxation of strained layers on atomic resolution ADF imaging

A Beyer and L Duschek and J Belz and JO Oelerich and K Jandieri and K Volz, ULTRAMICROSCOPY, 181, 8-16 (2017).

DOI: 10.1016/j.ultramic.2017.04.019

Surface relaxation of thin transmission electron microscopy (TEM) specimens of strained layers results in a severe bending of lattice planes. This bending significantly displaces atoms from their ideal channeling positions which has a strong impact on the measured annular dark field (ADF) intensity. With the example of GaAs quantum wells (QW) embedded in a GaP barrier, we model the resulting displacements by elastic theory using the finite element (FE) formalism. Relaxed and unrelaxed super cells served as input for state of the art frozen phonon simulation of atomic resolution ADF images. We systematically investigate the dependencies on the samples geometric parameters, i.e. QW width and TEM sample thickness, by evaluating the simulated intensities at the atomic column's positions as well as at the background positions in between. Depending on the geometry the ADF intensity can be affected in a range several nm from the actual interface. Moreover, we investigate the influence of the surface relaxation on the angular distribution of the scattered intensity. At high scattering angles we observe an intensity reduction at the interface as well as in the GaP barrier due to de-channeling. The amount of intensity reduction at an atomic column is directly proportional to its mean square displacement. On the contrary we find a clearly increased intensity at low angles caused by additional diffuse scattering. We discuss the, implications for quantitative evaluations as well as strategies to compensate for the reduced intensities. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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