Good practice guide on the analysis of thin films now available

Eco-home with rooftop solar panels

 Half of the EU’s energy is imported from abroad. An EMPIR project has helped address this situation.

Currently the EU imports around 50% of its energy.  Many energy efficient devices and renewable sources entering the European market, such as new types of photovoltaic cells, utilise thin film materials. Because they are often multi-layered or complex, no one measurement system is sufficient to assess issues such as long-term durability and performance – essential to reduce the time to market and decrease Europe’s reliance of foreign imports.

Previously, only a trial-and-error approach has been used to compare and correlate results from different methods.

This problem was addressed in the completed EMPIR project Hybrid metrology for thin films in energy applications (16ENG03, HyMet). A new good practice guide entitled Hybrid Metrology for thin films in energy applications is now available. The guide details how to perform measurement and data analysis of complex thin films using a combination of metrological methods including optical reflectometry. It also covers the definition of required reference samples and how to determine optical measurement accuracy and is of great relevance for quality control in industries using optical measurements in their production lines.

In addition to the guide this EMPIR project has combined and validated a number of methods (including x-ray diffraction, x-ray fluorescence and white light reflectometry) and developed a protocol for the implementation of a general ‘hybrid metrology approach’ for thin film characterisation.

Other project outputs include:

  • A VAMAS interlaboratory study with 15 participating laboratories led by NPL, the UK’s National Metrology Institute,  to assess a method for measuring lateral resolution in Raman microscopy to characterise nanowires as calibration artefacts.
  • Built and developed a Hyperspectral Coherent Fourier Scatterometer to improve the resolution and sensitivity of CFS with sub-nanometre uncertainty.
  • Validated a measurement procedure for traceable ellipsometry measurements of porous materials.
  • Developed an industry-compatible reference-based approach which has resulted in the development of a method for determining the depth-dependent properties of complex thin film stacks.
  • Contributed to upcoming standards within DIN and ISO – DIN 50989-1 and DIN 50989-2 on ellipsometry measurements; ISO 23131 on ellipsometry principles and  ISO 23216 on determination of carbon films using ellipsometry

 The work performed in the project will accelerate the time to market of more cost-efficient technologies in Europe and help reduce reliance on energy imports from often volatile markets.

Dr Castro (NPL) who coordinated the highly successful project said about the work

“The hybrid metrology approach developed in this project provides a new paradigm in metrology in Europe where single metrology areas previously developed separately will be merged to deliver better support for the energy sector. This concept drives collaboration and open innovation to the benefit of multiple stakeholders and is central to the increasing challenge of developing metrology for complex systems”

This EMPIR project is co-funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and the EMPIR Participating States.

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