The effect of nanocrystal orientation on the energy loss spectra of monoclinic hafnia (m-HfO2) is measured by high resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) and valence energy loss spectroscopy (VEELS) on high quality samples. For the same momentum-transfer directions, the dielectric properties are also calculated ab initio by time-dependent density-functional theory (TDDFT). Experiments and simulations evidence anisotropy in the dielectric properties of m-HfO2, most notably with the direction-dependent oscillator strength of the main bulk plasmon. The anisotropic nature of m-HfO2 may contribute to the differences among VEELS spectra reported in literature. The good agreement between the complex dielectric permittivity extracted from VEELS with nanometer spatial resolution, TDDFT modeling, and past literature demonstrates that the present HRTEM-VEELS device-oriented methodology is a possible solution to the difficult nanocharacterization challenges given in the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors.
The DFT calculation is converged at a kinetic energy cut-off of 150 Ha. In the TDDFT calculation, we used 300 bands, 9475 plane waves to represent wavefunctions and 329 for polarizability and dielectric matrices. We sampled the Brillouin zone by a 4 × 4 × 4 shifted k-points grid.