Stimulable phosphor thin films are being investigated for use as optical data storage media. We have successfully applied atomic force microscopy (AFM) to the measurement of the surface texture of these films. Determination of the surface texture of the films is important for evaluating the effect of surface quality on optical scatter. In other thin film material systems it has been found that the surface “bumps” revealed by AFM correspond to grains in the film. This is not the case for the stimulable phosphor films used in our study. We have determined the grain size of our phosphor films by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and x-ray diffraction (XRD). The grain size from TEM and XRD does not correlate with the size of the AFM surface “bumps.” For example, in two of the five films studied, the XRD derived grain size varies by a factor of two but the size of the surface “bumps” remains the same. We conclude that the texture of the film surface is not directly determined by the grain size of the phosphor material.
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