Atomic Echo


X-ray Reflectivity

X-ray reflectivity (XRR), a technique related to X-ray diffraction (XRD), is becoming a widely used tool for the characterization of thin-film and multilayer structures. X-ray scattering at very small diffraction angles allows characterization of the electron density profiles of thin films down to a few tens of Ǻ thick. Using a simulation of the reflectivity pattern, a highly accurate measurement of thickness, interface roughness and layer density for either crystalline or amorphous thin films and multilayers can be obtained. No prior knowledge or assumptions regarding the optical properties of the films are required, unlike optical ellipsometry.


Ideal Uses of XRR

  • Highly accurate film thickness and density measurement
  • Measure film or interface roughness
  • Measure film uniformity across wafers
  • Measuring pore density and pore size of low-k films
  • icon for x-ray diffraction (XRD)


  • Whole wafer analysis (up to 300 mm) as well as irregular and large samples
  • Mapping of full wafers
  • Conductor and insulator analysis
  • Optical properties of the film are not required to be known for accurate thickness determination
  • Minimal or no sample preparation requirements
  • Ambient conditions for all analysis


  • Some knowledge of the expected basic sample structure is needed in order to provide accurate density results (e.g. the order of the layers present and their approximate compositions)
  • Surface and interfacial roughnesses must be lower than ~5 nm in order to determine thickness. Surface roughness and density may still be determined on rougher samples
  • Maximum film thickness ~300 nm

XRR Technical Specifications

  • Signal Detected: Reflected X-rays
  • Elements Detected: No elements are specifically detected, rather the electron density of the layers is measured. This, combined with knowledge of the layer composition, allows an exact determination of layer thickness and density
  • Detection Limits: 15-100 Ǻ minimum layer thickness
  • Depth Resolution: ~1% of measured thickness
  • Imaging/Mapping: Yes
  • Lateral Resolution/Probe Size: ~1 cm
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