CMOS and beyond CMOS
Discover why imec is the premier R&D center for advanced logic & memory devices. anced logic & memory devices.
Connected health solutions
Explore the technologies that will power tomorrow’s wearable, implantable, ingestible and non-contact devices.
Life sciences
See how imec brings the power of chip technology to the world of healthcare.
Sensor solutions for IoT
Dive into innovative solutions for sensor networks, high speed networks and sensor technologies.
Artificial intelligence
Explore the possibilities and technologies of AI.
More expertises
Discover all our expertises.
Be the first to reap the benefits of imec’s research by joining one of our programs or starting an exclusive bilateral collaboration.
Build on our expertise for the design, prototyping and low-volume manufacturing of your innovative nanotech components and products.
Use one of imec’s mature technologies for groundbreaking applications across a multitude of industries such as healthcare, agriculture and Industry 4.0.
Venturing and startups
Kick-start your business. Launch or expand your tech company by drawing on the funds and knowhow of imec’s ecosystem of tailored venturing support.
/Job opportunities/Atom probe tomography for the characterization of next generation (and beyond) CMOS devices

Atom probe tomography for the characterization of next generation (and beyond) CMOS devices

Master projects/internships - Leuven | More than two weeks ago

Work together with us on the future of 3D nanoscale materials characterization

The ever-ongoing downscaling of semiconductor technology has led to a paradigm shift from planar to 3D devices. Industry has moved towards 3D architectures such as fin field-effect transistors, with next being nanosheets and nanowires on the roadmap for their better electrostatic control and reduced power dissipation [1]. Additionally, novel material systems are constantly being investigated to improve or even disrupt conventional CMOS technology with the introduction of entirely new concepts – think of 2D materials, systems portraying (topologically) protected states, or phases which exhibit exciting superconducting, spintronic, thermoelectric or ferroelectric properties, etc.

The performance of such nano-applications is tailored by the structure and chemical composition at the atomic level: a few displaced atoms can make the difference! Device fabrication and characterization has never been so challenging, as tomorrows nano-devices become increasingly complex, and new materials and ingenious fabrication processes that continue to unfold. Hence, a reliable 3D characterization technique with close to atomic resolution and high elemental sensitivity is not only a dream – it is a requirement!

Laser-assisted atom probe tomography (L-APT) has emerged as the promised solution. In a nutshell (Fig. a), L-APT is based on the concept of controlled field emission of atoms from a needle-shaped specimen by a time-resolved laser pulse with the mass (hence element) identification achieved through the ions’ time-of-flight. By collecting the ions on a 2D detector and tracking their arrival sequence, we can reconstruct the 3D volume of the analyzed sample with sub-nm resolution (Fig. b).

While L-APT offers promise, many challenges have yet to be solved. These challenges arise mainly from the underlying physics, where one must understand e.g., the short-pulsed laser interaction with a nanoscale tip, the field evaporation behavior of surface atoms in a heterogeneous system, atomic processes (diffusion) on the surface and during the ion’s flight sequence (molecular ion dissociation), etc. – all of which might intricately contribute to a faulty composition and/or element distribution being measured. Understanding these physical mechanisms and identifying their driving forces will bring us closer to a true, quantitative 3D nanoscale characterization method for future materials and devices.

In this project you will work with state-of-the-art APT equipment. You will have the possibility to explore a vast playground of experimental work, data reconstruction and analysis, and literature available in this field of research.

[1] W. Vandervorst et al., “Dopant, composition and carrier profiling of 3D structures”, Mater Sci Semicond Process 62, 31 (2017)
[2] A. Veloso et al., "Vertical Nanowire and Nanosheet FETs: Device Features, Novel Schemes ...." IEEE IEDM,11.1.1-11.1.4, (2019)


Type of project: Thesis


Duration: Whole academic year for master thesis

Required degree: Master of Science

Required background: Physics, Nanoscience & Nanotechnology

Supervising scientist(s): For further information or for application, please contact: Jeroen Scheerder (

Only for self-supporting students.