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Title: Optoacoustic Microscopy for Investigation of Material Nanostructures-Embracing the Ultrasmall, Ultrafast, and the Invisible

The goal of this grant was the development of a new type of scanning acoustic microscope for nanometer resolution ultrasound imaging, based on ultrafast optoacoustics (>GHz). In the microscope, subpicosecond laser pulses was used to generate and detect very high frequency ultrasound with nanometer wavelengths. We report here on the outcome of the 3-year DOE/BES grant which involved the design, multifaceted construction, and proof-of-concept demonstration of an instrument that can be used for quantitative imaging of nanoscale material features – including features that may be buried so as to be inaccessible to conventional lightwave or electron microscopies. The research program has produced a prototype scanning optoacoustic microscope which, in combination with advanced computational modeling, is a system-level new technology (two patents issues) which offer novel means for precision metrology of material nanostructures, particularly those that are of contemporary interest to the frontline micro- and optoelectronics device industry. For accomplishing the ambitious technical goals, the research roadmap was designed and implemented in two phases. In Phase I, we constructed a “non-focusing” optoacoustic microscope instrument (“POAM”), with nanometer vertical (z-) resolution, while limited to approximately 10 micrometer scale lateral recolution. The Phase I version of the instrument which was guided by extensivemore » acoustic and optical numerical modeling of the basic underlying acoustic and optical physics, featured nanometer scale close loop positioning between the optoacoustic transducer element and a nanostructured material sample under investigation. In phase II, we implemented and demonstrated a scanning version of the instrument (“SOAM”) where incident acoustic energy is focused, and scanned on lateral (x-y) spatial scale in the 100 nm range as per the goals of the project. In so doing we developed advanced numerical simulations to provide computational models of the focusing of multi-GHz acoustic waves to the nanometer scale and innovated a series fabrication approaches for a new type of broadband high-frequency acoustic focusing microscope objective by applying methods on nanoimprinting and focused-ion beam techniques. In the following, the Phase I and Phase II instrument development is reported as Section II. The first segment of this section describes the POAM instrument and its development, while including much of the underlying ultrafast acoustic physics which is common to all of our work for this grant. Then, the science and engineering of the SOAM instrument is described, including the methods of fabricating new types of acoustic microlenses. The results section is followed by reports on publications (Section III), Participants (Section IV), and statement of full use of the allocated grant funds (Section V).« less
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Brown University
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC)
Country of Publication:
United States