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In the frame of the design and fabrication of advanced materials and devices for Microelectronic and Microsystems applications, a crucial role is played by the characterization techniques, which allow to explore the physical and chemical  properties of the materials and to understand their role in the operation of the devices. Materials and devices characterization covers a vast array of processes and analytical techniques which depend upon the type of material, sample composition, condition and form.

IMM has a consolidated tradition in the field of characterization of materials and devices, due to the high level expertise and to top of the art instrumentation available in its regional units. In particular, the following categories of characterizations are present at IMM:

  • Structural/ morphological  characterization
  • Electrical characterization
  • Optical characterization

A synergic approach is being developed in each unit and among the different units, in order to reach a comprehensive  assessment of the physical and functional properties of materials and devices.

Thanks to the presence of complementary competencies in physics, chemistry and engineering and to the strong interaction with the academic and industrial worlds, the IMM characterization area has become a reference point  for the research and technology activities of the Institute.

In the recent years the characterization techniques, initially mainly devoted to the study of semiconductor materials,  have been addressed to new low dimensional materials for nanotechnology and nanoelectronics applications.

Novel characterization approaches for measuring the physical properties of nanomaterials and even for locating and identifying atomic configurations within nanostructures, are being developed.

Educational and training activities are carried out within the characterization laboratories by the IMM researchers.

The characterization facilities are also available to external entities (university users, industries, national parties,… ).

Structural/morphological characterization

IMM has developed a central role in the structural, morphological and compositional characterization of materials by means of electron microscopy and X-ray diffraction techniques and methodologies.  IMM houses a variety of instruments for morphological and structural characterization including transmission electron microscopes, scanning electron and probe microscopes, Focused Ion Beam systems, Electron Microprobe,  an Aberration corrected Scanning Transmission Electron Microscope with sub angstrom resolution, and multipurpose x-ray diffractometers.

IMM has also built up unique expertise in the national frame aimed to create and disseminate high level knowledge in the field of electron microscopy methods and techniques, by means of advanced training courses, masters and other forms of theoretical and practical schools.

Electro-optical characterization

Thanks to a variety of instrumentation and techniques, available at the different units, the electrical and optical characterization activities, strictly correlated among each others, cover a wide range of  materials/device, having variable spatial scale and functionalities, and ranging from CMOS devices, 3C-SiC and 4H-SiC devices, bio-materials and devices, photonic crystal structures or gratings, nanostructures and nanoclusters, 2D materials, and so on.

Basic material properties (defects, charge transport dynamics, interfaces, etc.) can be studied and functional testing can be carried out with high-performance and updated equipment.

The activity is also devoted to the development of new and non commercial/standard techniques, methodologies, experimental set up for the study of novel materials, devices and phenomena.

The electro-optical characterization facilities are all involved in national and international collaboration with academic institutions, research centers and industries. They are also open to education and training.


Coordinator: Roberto Balboni

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