Imaging of nanoscale structures buried in a covering material is an extremely challenging task, but is also considered extremely important in a wide variety of fields. From fundamental research into the way living cells are built up to process control in semiconductor manufacturing would all benefit from the capability to image nanoscale structures through arbitrary covering layers. Combining Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) with ultrasound has been shown a promising technology to enable such imaging in various configurations. Here we report the development of an alternative method of combining AFM with ultrasound which we call SubSurface Ultrasonic Resonance Force Microscopy (SSURFM) and which is based on a combination of the two most common variants described in literature, which each have their specific strong points: Ultrasonic Force Microscopy (UFM) and Contact Resonance AFM (CR-AFM). We show the excellent performance of this combination on a number of samples designed specifically to mimic relevant conditions for the application as a metrology technique in the semiconductor manufacturing process. We also discuss the physics of the image contrast mechanism which is based on sensing local changes in visco-elastic properties of the sample bygenerating large indentations in the surface.
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