Preparation of multilayer samples for scanning thermal microscopy examination

James Lees*, Marco Corbetta, Matthias Kleine-Boymann, Adi Scheidemann, Siew Wai Poon, Sarah M. Thompson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Thin film multilayer materials are very important for a variety of key technologies such as hard drive storage. However, their multilayered nature means it can be difficult to examine them after production and determining properties of individual layers is harder still. Here, methods of preparing multilayer samples for examination using scanning thermal microscopy are compared, showing that both a combination of mechanical and ion beam polishing, and ion beam milling to form a crater produce suitable surfaces for scanning thermal microscopy examination. However, the larger exposed surfaces of the ion beam milled crater are the most promising for distinguishing between the layers and comparison of their thermal transport properties.

Original languageEnglish
Article number225702
Number of pages10
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2024

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
With thanks to Seagate for the provision of the samples. We acknowledge the support of EPSRC Grant EP/R513386/1.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd.


  • HAMR
  • magnetic recording materials
  • multilayer materials
  • scanning thermal microscopy
  • SThM
  • thermal transport

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