Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


Reza Shahbazian-Yassar


A silicon-based microcell was fabricated with the potential for use in in-situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of materials under plasma processing. The microcell consisted of 50 nm-thick film of silicon nitride observation window with 60μm distance between two electrodes. E-beam scattering Mont Carlo simulation showed that the silicon nitride thin film would have very low scattering effect on TEM primary electron beam accelerated at 200 keV. Only 4.7% of primary electrons were scattered by silicon nitride thin film and the Ar gas (60 μm thick at 1 atm pressure) filling the space between silicon nitride films. Theoretical calculation also showed low absorption of high-energy e-beam electrons. Because the plasma cell needs to survive the high vacuum TEM chamber while holding 1 atm internal pressure, a finite element analysis was performed to find the maximum stress the low-stress silicon nitride thin film experienced under pressure. Considering the maximum burst stress of low-stress silicon nitride thin film, the simulation results showed that the 50 nm silicon nitride thin film can be used in TEM under 1 atm pressure as the observation window. Ex-situ plasma generation experiment demonstrated that air plasma can be ignited at DC voltage of 570. A Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) analysis showed that etching and deposition occurred during the plasma process and larger dendrites formed on the positive electrode.