Complementary cathodoluminescence lifetime imaging configurations in a scanning electron microscope

Back to all publications

Publication date
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ultramic.2018.11.006
Reference S. Meuret, M. M. Sola Garcia, T. Coenen, E. Kieft, H. Zeijlemaker, M. Latzel, S. Christiansen, S.Y. Woo, Y.H. Ra, Z. Mi and A. Polman, Complementary cathodoluminescence lifetime imaging configurations in a scanning electron microscope, Ultramicroscopy 197, 28-38 (2019)
Group Photonic Materials

Cathodoluminescence (CL) spectroscopy provides a powerful way to characterize optical properties of materials with deep-subwavelength spatial resolution. While CL imaging to obtain optical spectra is a well-developed technology, imaging CL lifetimes with nanoscale resolution has only been explored in a few studies. In this paper we compare three different time-resolved CL techniques and compare their characteristics. Two configurations are based on the acquisition of CL decay traces using a pulsed electron beam that is generated either with an ultra-fast beam blanker, which is placed in the electron column, or by photoemission from a laser-driven electron cathode. The third configuration uses measurements of the autocorrelation function g(2) of the CL signal using either a continuous or a pulsed electron beam. The three techniques are compared in terms of complexity of implementation, spatial and temporal resolution, and measurement accuracy as a function of electron dose. A single sample of InGaN/GaN quantum wells is investigated to enable a direct comparison of lifetime measurement characteristics of the three techniques. The g(2)-based method provides decay measurements at the best spatial resolution, as it leaves the electron column configuration unaffected. The pulsed-beam methods provide better detail on the temporal excitation and decay dynamics. The ultra-fast blanker configuration delivers electron pulses as short as 30 ps at 5 keV and 250 ps at 30 keV. The repetition rate can be chosen arbitrarily up to 80 MHz and requires a conjugate plane geometry in the electron column that reduces the spatial resolution in our microscope. The photoemission configuration, pumped with 250 fs 257 nm pulses at a repetition rate from 10 kHz to 25 MHz, allows creation of electron pulses down to a few ps, with some loss in spatial resolution.