Nanoscale temperature mapping in operating microelectronic devices

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Abstract

Modern microelectronic devices have nanoscale features that dissipate power nonuniformly, but fundamental physical limits frustrate efforts to detect the resulting temperature gradients. Contact thermometers disturb the temperature of a small system, while radiation thermometers struggle to beat the diffraction limit. Exploiting the same physics as Fahrenheit's glass-bulb thermometer, we mapped the thermal expansion of Joule-heated, 80-nanometer-thick aluminum wires by precisely measuring changes in density. With a scanning transmission electron microscope and electron energy loss spectroscopy, we quantified the local density via the energy of aluminum's bulk plasmon. Rescaling density to temperature yields maps with a statistical precision of 3 kelvin/hertz-1/2, an accuracy of 10%, and nanometer-scale resolution. Many common metals and semiconductors have sufficiently sharp plasmon resonances to serve as their own thermometers.

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Mecklenburg, M., Hubbard, W. A., White, E. R., Dhall, R., Cronin, S. B., Aloni, S., & Regan, B. C. (2015). Nanoscale temperature mapping in operating microelectronic devices. Science, 347(6222), 629–632. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaa2433

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