Low-Z, Chemically Resistant, Microfabricated Carbon Composite Transmission Electron Microscope Grids

K. Zufelt, R. Vanfleet, RC. Davis
Brigham Young University, US

Keywords: CNT-M, TEM grid, suspended thin films, CNT delamination


An issue that often impacts x-ray and electron analysis of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) samples is the presence of high-Z atoms in the sample substrate. In many cases, it is also desirable that the chosen substrate be resistant to chemicals and various processing methods. We present an improved TEM grid made by carbon-infiltrated carbon nanotube templated microfabrication (CNT-M). These grids provide a significant advantage in analytical TEM applications due to the absence of high-Z atoms and the improved chemical resistivity which allows for a wider range of sample preparation and processing techniques. We have refined the CNT-M process by developing a method for preventing delamination of highly carbon-infiltrated CNT-M structures from the growth substrate. We further present a scalable method for suspending thin films (<30 nm) across large gaps (>100 um) between CNT-M defined features. Several membranes were deposited on the grids including amorphous carbon, boron carbide, silicon dioxide, and alumina. These results are of significance to CNT-M MEMS design and production.