Friday, September 05, 2008

US Patent 7420106 - Dielectric film characterization using tunneling

This patent from the University of Utah includes some broad claims covering he characterization of a dielectric surface via tunneling. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of characterizing a dielectric surface by detecting tunneling events, the method comprising acts of:

applying a first voltage at a given location on the dielectric surface, the voltage being of a sufficient strength, and applied within a distance from the dielectric surface where tunneling events are likely to occur; and

detecting a tunneling event occurring as a result of applying the first voltage at the given location on the dielectric surface.

However, several examples of prior art seem to have been overlooked such as US Patent 4,575,822 teaching a voltage biased scanning tunneling tip (20) used for data detection via characterization of a dielectric layer (14).