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NIST Wins R&D100 Award for Through-focus Scanning Optical Microscopy

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Ravikiran Attota, a lead researcher in the National Institute for Standards and Technology 's Precision Engineering Division, has been awarded a 2010 R&D100 Award in the Microscopy category for his development of Through-focus Scanning Optical Microscopy (TSOM), a method which transforms conventional optical microscopes into 3D metrology tools with nanometer sensitivity.

TSOM allows a user to analyze samples from multiple image planes along the focus direction, instead of the typical analysis from a single plane. It collects 2-D images at different focal positions from a conventional bright field optical microscope, extracts brightness profiles from these multiple out-of-focus images, and uses the differences between them to construct the TSOM image.

TSOM has a range of potential applications, from defect analysis and inspection and process control to photomask metrology, nanoparticle metrology, film thickness metrology, and more.

The R&D Awards have been identifying top technologies products yearly since 1963.