Transmission electron microscope based elemental analysis techniques utilize X-ray photons in EDS and inelastically scattered electrons or the energy-loss electrons in electron energy-loss spectroscopy and energy-filtered transmission electron microscopy (EFTEM). This paper discusses the applications of EFTEM to visualize polysilicon defects, gate dielectric and silicon nanocrystals using inelastically scattered low energy-loss electrons. It focuses on features that are primarily composed of silicon and silicon-oxide. Various benefits of using plasmon energy-loss electrons to image silicon nanocrystals layer in thin film storage device are also outlined. Even though this work has focused on low-loss imaging of features and defects in the front-end of the process based on silicon/silicon-oxide integrated circuits, these techniques can also be applied to technologies based on other materials by selecting appropriate plasmon peaks corresponding to those materials.

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