Characterization of gold nanoparticle films: Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy with image analysis, and atomic force microscopy
Gold nanoparticle films are of interest in several branches of science and technology, and accurate sample characterization is needed but technically demanding. We prepared such films by DC magnetron sputtering and recorded their mass thickness by Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy. The geometric thickness dg—from the substrate to the tops of the nanoparticles—was obtained by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) combined with image analysis as well as by atomic force microscopy (AFM). The various techniques yielded an internally consistent characterization of the films. In particular, very similar results for dg were obtained by SEM with image analysis and by AFM.