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The characterization of materials plays an important role in the IMM-Bologna site. Electron microscopy, X-ray diffraction, Electrical and Optical facilities support the technology activity of the institute and the acquired expertise finds application in many collaborations at national and international level. In this framework the development of structural and analytical characterization techniques has always been a specific research activity of the Bologna site of IMM since its foundation. This includes operation and improvement of the instrumentation as well as the development of model and simulation procedures, which aim at a more accurate interpretation of the results of measurements. While originally devoted to the study of semiconductors based materials and devices, the facilities are now employed in up-to-date research fields, which includes the characterization of nanostructures, functional and small dimensional materials.

Along with the development of structural characterization methods, special attention is put in the education and training activity. An international TEM School in Materials Science is organized here every two years.

All facilities are available to external user. Please refer to the contact persons indicated for each facility or technique.



Electron Microscopy Lab

Transmission electron microscopy (FEI Tecnai F20 ST)

The instrument, equipped whit EDS x-ray microanalysis, PEELS detector and HAADF detector for STEM operation, allows conventional analysis of materials, such as conventional diffraction contrast imaging, HREM imaging and analysis, micro- and nanodiffraction, STEM imaging and quantitative analysis, EDS X-ray elemental microanalysis and mapping in STEM mode. Specific research activities include:

  • Convergent beam electron diffraction analysis of strain fields in semiconductor crystal with 1 nm spatial resolution and 2x10-4 strain sensitivity. Strain analysis using in-house designed software. (Dr. R. Balboni)
  • Electron interferometry and holography. Measurement of mean inner potential in solids, strain in crystals, 3D structure reconstruction of curved 2D crystals, Geometric Phase Analysis. (Dr. L. Ortolani, Dr. V. Morandi)
  • MEMS-based in-house designed and fabricated sample holder, capable to induce external stimuli (thermal, electrical, mechanical) to the nanostructured materials during the TEM observation. (Dr. R. Balboni, Dr. V. Morandi)
  • Quantitative methods in STEM. Composition determination in STEM imaging of materials and nanostructures. (Dr. A. Parisini)
  • Electron crystallography: a method to resolve the crystal structure of both inorganic and organic compounds with sub-micrometric dimensions. (A. Migliori)
  • Quantitative methods in X-ray microanalysis. Assessment of k factors relating X-ray peak intensities to elemental concentrations in binary alloy films. (Dr. A. Armigliato, Dr. A Parisini)


Scanning electron microscopy (SEM  Zeiss Gemini 1530, Zeiss EVO LS10)

Both instruments are equipped with in-column and ET secondary electrons and BSE detectors and EDS X-ray Spectrometer with SDD detector. The EVO LS10 can be operated in variable column pressure operation mode analysis of biological samples without preparation and non-conducting ones without surface coating. Specific research activities include:

  • Low energy STEM imaging using an optimized innovative solid-state detector for transmitted electrons developed at IMM-Bologna. (Dr. V. Morandi)
  • Development of an electron tomography system for the SEM composed by the in-house developed STEM detector (see above) and of an innovative eucentric sample holder fabricated for the scope. (Dr. V. Morandi, Dr. A. Migliori, Dr. M. Ferroni)


X-ray diffraction

X-Ray diffractometer Rigaku SmartLab

This multi-purpose instrument allows analysis of organic, inorganic, thin films, multilayers, powder, bulkmaterials. (Dr. S. Milita, Dr. F. Liscio)

  • X-ray diffraction in Bragg-Brentano geometry for powder and bulk materials
  • X-ray diffraction with Parallel Beam for thin film characterization
  • High angular resolution X-ray diffraction
  • Reciprocal space mapping for stress study
  • Pole figures for texturing study
  • In-plane and out-of-plane grazing incidence diffraction


Dual beam facility

Dual beam FIB Zeiss CrossBeam 340

The CrossBeam 340 dual beam facility has a Gemini FEG electron column and a Ga ion column and is equipped with a gas injection system, a Raith Elphy Quantum nanolithography attachment and Kleindiek micromanipulators. This instrument is located in clean room environment. (Dr. I. Elmi, Dr. L. Ortolani)

This instrument allows operation at micro-nanometric level, which includes (but not limited to):

  • Imaging with ET and in-column SE detector, BSE detector
  • Cutting and building of nano-structures
  • Operation in high-pressure and environmental condition
  • Failure analysis of device with combined use of ion milling and SEM imaging
  • TEM sample preparation


Electrical characterization

Semi-automatic probe stations (Prober Micromanipulator MM 6620 and P200AI). (L. Belsito, A. Roncaglia)

  • I/V measurements in the range 0-1000 V with min 10 pA/1 mV  resolution (MM 6620) or 0-200 V with min 10 aA /0.5 mV  resolution (P200AI)
  • High-Frequency (HF) at 100 kHz and Quasi-Static (QS) C–V characteristics
  • Multi-Frequency AC impedance measurements (C-V, C-f, C-t)  in the range 1 kHz-5MHz, with 100 V DC bias


Hall measurement system

This system allows measurements of resistivity, mobility and carrier concentration with a magnetic field source of 1 T and the possibility to heat the sample up to 400° C. (L. Belsito, R. Nipoti)


Optical characterization

Optical bench and opto-electronics Newport Inc.

This actively damped anti-vibrating optical bench for free-space lightwave measurement is equipped with opto-electronic components for photonic measurements (lasers 1550nm, photo-detectors, filters, couplers etc.) and allows the set-up and measurement of optical systems, subsystems and devices. (Dr. G. Bolognini)

  • Nano-positioning system (3-axes) with long travel and sub-nanometer resolution motion
  • Chip-to-fiber alignment, planar lightwave circuit characterization


FTIR NIR and MIR spectrophotometer Nicolet 5700, UV – visible fiber optic spectrophotometer Avantes and OPTICAL simulation program

OPTICAL is a user-friendly computer code, able to treat optical systems composed of any combination of coherent and incoherent layers, based on Fresnel equations for a multilayer system. It allows determination of thickness, refractive index, composition of multilayered materials, analysis of composite structures (multilayers, Bragg reflectors, mixed phases). (Dr. C. Summonte)