To investigate the performance of three-dimensional (3D) nanostructures, it is vital to study their internal structure with a methodology that keeps the device fully functional and ready for further integration. To this aim, we introduce here traceless X-ray tomography (TXT) that combines synchrotron X-ray holographic tomography with high X-ray photon energies (17 keV) in order to study nanostructures "as is" on massive silicon substrates. The combined strengths of TXT are a large total sample size to field-of-view ratio and a large penetration depth. We study exemplary 3D photonic band gap crystals made by CMOS-compatible means and obtain real space 3D density distributions with 55 nm spatial resolution. TXT identifies why nanostructures that look similar in electron microscopy have vastly different nanophotonic functionality: one "good" crystal with a broad photonic gap reveals 3D periodicity as designed; a second "bad" structure without a gap reveals a buried void, and a third "ugly" one without gap is shallow due to fabrication errors. Thus, TXT serves to nondestructively differentiate between the possible reasons of not finding the designed and expected performance and is therefore a powerful tool to critically assess 3D functional nanostructures.
- complementary metal-oxide semiconductor
- photonic band gaps
- silicon photonics
- X-ray imaging
- 3D integration