Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Electrical Engineering

Major Professor

Thomas Weller, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jing Wang, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sanjuktha Bhanja, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ryan Toomey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kenneth Church, Ph.D.


Microwave Probe, Electromagnetic Properties, High-Resolution, Imaging, Microscope


This dissertation presents an investigation on the capabilities of Near-Field Microwave Microscopy (NFMM) for the characterization of surface and subsurface materials. Subsurface characterization refers to the detection, differentiation and imaging of dielectric, and metallic features that are coated with an insulating layer. The design, simulation and modeling, and testing of a dielectric resonator (DR)-based NFMM and a coaxial transmission line resonator-based NFMM are discussed in detail in this work. Additionally, materials differentiation and imaging capabilities of each microscope are examined using several bulk samples, liquids, GaAs MMIC circuits, and gold/glass testing patterns.

The 5.7 GHz DR-based NFMM uses a microwave probe that consists of a commercial gold-coated probe tip coupled to a DR through a non-resonant microstrip line. The probe is enclosed in an aluminum cavity to preserve the quality factor of the probe (Q=986) and therefore to enhance its sensitivity. The development of a lumped-element model of this DR-based probe is discussed in this work. Characteristics of this design are its high Q and the ability to resolve differences in permittivity (E’r) of insulting bulk samples and liquids as small as ∆E’r =1.75 and ∆E’r =0.04, respectively. The imaging capabilities of this design were verified using a GaAs MMIC phase shifter. It was found that a 10 um wide microstrip line is successfully resolved and that the spatial resolution of the microscope is 50 um when using a tungsten tip with an apex radius of 25 um. Additionally, measurement of the electrical resistance of an additive manufactured resistor was measured using the DR-based NFMM without the need of contacts. The percent difference between the electrical resistance measured using the DR-based NFMM and a four-point probe is 9.6%. Furthermore, the DR-based NFMM allows simultaneous imaging of topography and RF electrical conductivity of rough thick films without the need of an additional distance sensor; this ability is demonstrated for a rough CB028 thick film.

The 5GHz coaxial resonator transmission line-based NFMM employs a half-wavelength coaxial transmission line resonator terminated in a sharp tungsten tip as the microwave probe. A quartz-tuning fork based distance following feedback system is integrated with the microwave probe in order for the NFMM to operate in non-contact mode. The Q of the probe is degraded by 30% (Q=55) due to the presence of the quartz tuning fork. Despite the low Q, this NFMM is able to differentiate several insulating bulk samples (3.8 < E’r < 25) even if they are coated with an insulating layer of thickness similar to the apex radius of the tungsten tip. Finally, the coaxial resonator transmission line-based NFMM is able to image subsurface permittivity distribution of a flexible polymer-composite PDMS-Ba0.55Sr0.45TiO3 49% which is coated with 10 um thick parylene-C layer. Measurements performed at a tip-sample distance of 100 nm reveal that within an area of 50 um x 50 um, the relative permittivity of the polymer-composite is not constant but varies between 6.63 and 11.78.