TSST is involved in the NEXTgen PLD project, for which we receive funding from the European Union within the regional Op Oost program (www.op-oost.eu). Together with our partners University of Twente, Saxion, Con-vergence and SmartTip, the goal of the project is to develop a system that combines an atomic force microscope (AFM) with a fully functional PLD system, thus allowing in-situ AFM measurements during the deposition process.
Since the first development of differentially pumped high-pressure Reflection High-Energy Electron Diffraction (RHEED), it has become a powerful technique for sample characterization during the deposition. The intensity oscillations in RHEED measurements enable the determination of growth-rates and the diffraction patterns provide insight into the crystal structure. However, downsides of this technique are that RHEED does not work for amorphous, non-crystalline materials and that the information lies in the reciprocal space, which makes it harder to interpret. Therefore, the PLD community would benefit greatly from a complementary in-situ technique that provides real-space information about the surface roughness and morphology. This is why we set out to develop the in-situ AFM.