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Solid-State

Electronica

Pergamon Press 197 1. Vol. 14. pp. 1167- 1177.

Printed in Great Britain

THE EVALUATION
OF GEOMETRICAL EFFECTS
IN FOUR POINT PROBE MEASUREMENTS
M. A. GREEN and M. W. GUNN
Electrical Engineering Department, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia
(Received 2 December

1970; in revisedform

22 February

197 1)

Abstract-An
accurate numerical approach is presented for the evaluation of geometrical effects in
four point probe resistivity measurements upon semiconductors. The accuracy of the approach is
illustrated by comparing results obtained with correction factors tabulated for probe measurements
upon circular and rectangular geometries. Correction factors are presented for measurements with a
square probe array upon rectangular specimens.
The effect of increasing thickness for specimens of bounded geometry is also investigated. The
method allows four point probe measurements to be made not only with an arbitrary probe configuration but also upon thin specimens of an arbitrary geometry.
RCsmnC- On presente une approche numerique precise de Ievaluation des effets geomitriques dans
les prises de mesures de resistance specifique par sonde a quatre points sur les semi-conducteurs.
On demontre la precision de cette approche en comparant les resultats obtenus avec des facteurs de
correction catalog&
pour les mesures par sonde sur des geometries circulaires ou rectangulaires.
On presente des facteurs de correction pour les prises de mesures avec une serie de sondes carrtes
sur des Cchantillons rectangulaires. On examine aussi Ieffet dune augmentation depaisseur sur des
echantillons de geometric limitee. Cette methode permet deffectuer des prises de mesures a la
sonde a quatre points avec une configuration arbitraire de sonde ainsi que sur des Cchantillons de
geometric arbitraire.
Zusammenfassung- Fur Viersondenmessungen an Halbleitern werden genaue numerische Naherungen
zur Auswertung der Geometrieeffekte angegeben. Die Genauigkeit wird erlautert durch Vergleich
der mit den Korrekturfaktoren erzielten Ergebnisse mit denjenigen, die man mit tabellierten Faktoren
fur kreisformige und rechteckige Proben erhalt. Die Korrekturfaktoren zur Messung an rechteckigen
Proben mit einer quadratischen Sondenanordnung werden angegeben.
Der EinfluR zunehmender Probendicke bei fester Probengeometrie wird ebenfalls untersucht.
Die Methode ermiiglicht die Vierpunktmessung nicht nur fur eine beliebige Sondenanordnung sondern
such fur diinne Proben beliebiger Geometrie.
1. INTRODUCTION
THE

FOUR

point

probe

technique

presented

by

Valdes[l] has proved a powerful method for the


evaluation of semiconductor
resistivity. Minimal
sample preparation is required and the method is
suitable for measurements upon diffused, epitaxially
grown and thin film layers. The probe configurations which have proved important are the linear
(Fig. 1) and the square probe arrays (Fig. 2).
Two limiting specimen geometries allow resistivity to be simply evaluated from the ratio of the
voltage measured between the voltage probes to
the current passing through the current probes. The
first is that realised by specimens in the form of thin
sheets such as slices from large crystals, or
epitaxial layers grown over large areas. The second

is that realised
by specimens
large in all three
dimensions
such as large bulk crystals. These

specimen types will be referred to as 2 dimensional


and 3 dimensional respectively.
For specimens of lateral dimensions less than
about ten probe spacings, four point probe measurements are influenced by the sample geometry and
the probe location on this geometry. Thickness
effects become important for specimens between
one half and two probe spacings thick which constitutes the dividing region between 2 dimensional
and 3 dimensional geometries.
Aspects of these effects have been investigated
for 2 dimensional specimens by Smits [2], Vaughan
[3], Mircea[4], and Logan[5], and for 3 dimensional
specimens by Valdes [l], Uhlir[6], and Hansen
1167

M. A. GREEN

1168

a nd M. W. GUNN

obtaining
a numerical
solution of the differential
equation
governing
the
potential
distribution
throughout
the semiconductor
specimen
using a
digital computer. This flexible technique has distinct
advantages
in its simplicity,
and in the fact that
arbitrary
probe configurations
and locations
can
be accommodated.
In addition,
this technique
allows four point probe measurements
to be made
upon specimens
of arbitrary
geometry,
thereby
providing an alternate method to the van der Pauw
peripheral
contact
method[9]
for
resistivity
measurements
upon such specimens.
Fig. 1. Linear

four point probe army


2. FINITE
2. I Potrntiul

DIFFERENCE

distribution

APPROACH

rend boundmy

conditions

The equation governing the potential distribution


throughout
an isotropic
conductor
of resistivity.
p. where there is no charge accumulation
is[lO]

v.

!kC/i
P

-0

(I)

If the conductor
is isotropic and homogeneous,
p is constant
throughout
the conductor.
and this
relation reduces to Laplaces equation

Fig. 2. Square four point probe array

[7]. Extensive
tables have been prepared by Swartzendruber [8] and Logan [5] for measurements
upon
circular
and rectangular
2 dimensional
geometries
respectively.
The technique
used by the above workers has
been based in general upon the method of current
images. This method introduces
elliptic functions
for the conformal
transformation
of rectangular
geometries
to more suitable planes. The work of
Hansen[7].
however,
was based on calculating
the potential distribution
throughout
the geometry
of interest by solving Laplaces equation using the
separation
of variables
technique.
Solutions
obtained
by this technique
were in the form of
slowly convergent
infinite series.
This paper presents
an attractive
technique
for
the evaluation
of these geometrical
effects
by

Only the above case will be considered


further.
In addition. only samples surrounded
by insulating
material are considered,
although
the method
is
easily extended
to cases where the sample is in
contact with conducting
material [I I].
For the specimens under consideration. Laplace\
equation governs the potential distribution
throughout the specimen
except at the points where the
current carrying
probes contact the surface.
For
analysis
purposes.
these contact
points can be
replaced
by internal
boundaries
held at fixed
potentials.
The radius of these boundaries
approaches an infinitely small value (Fig. 3).
As no current
flows through
any remaining
portion of the specimen boundary.
the relation to
he satisfied at the sample extremity is

where II is in the direction


boundary.

perpendicular

to the

FOUR

\/
/\

POINT

PROBE

LJ

Fig. 3. Four point probe array on specimen divided with


superimposed square mesh.

1169

MEASUREMENTS

where K is a correction factor incorporating the


effects of sample geometry, the probe positioning
on the sample, and the probe array employed.
As shown by Smits [2] and Uhlir [6] K approaches
maximum values of n/in 2 for a linear array and
2a/in 2 for a square array as w approaches zero
and the lateral dimensions of the specimen become
large, which corresponds to the two dimensional
geometry case. Correction
factors for regular
specimens of both two dimensional
and three
dimensional geometries and for thin specimens of
arbitrary geometries are calculated in the following
sections.
3. TWO DIMENSIONAL GEOMETRIES

2.2 Outline of method of solution

The governing differential equation with the


appropriate boundary conditions can be solved by
finite difference techniques[l2]
using a digital
computer. Solutions have been obtained for regular
specimens of both two dimensional and three dimensional geometries, and for thin specimens of an
arbitrary geometry. These solutions are described
in Sections 3,4 and 5 respectively.
The method of solution is indicated in Fig. 3
which shows a thin rectangular specimen with a
four point probe in an arbitrary configuration on its
surface. The specimen is divided by a square mesh
with the current probe contacts lying on nodes,
where a node corresponds to the intersection of two
mesh lines. The voltages at the current probe
contact boundaries are specified arbitrarily.
If the voltage at every remaining node can be
expressed in terms of the voltages at the surrounding nodes using the appropriate finite difference
formulae, a set of simultaneous equations can be
obtained. Solution of this set gives the voltage at
every node point on the mesh. The current required
to maintain this voltage distribution can be calculated thus allowing the ratio of voltage measured
between the voltage probes to the current passing
between the current probes to be found.
The specimen geometries considered in this
paper are bounded and of uniform thickness, w.
The most convenient expression for the specimen
resistivity. p, in terms of the voltage measured
between the voltage probes, V, and the current
passing between the current probes, I, is
(4)

3. I Finite difference formulae


Consider a node as shown in Fig. 4(a) within a
region convered by a square mesh of mesh interval.
h. A relationship between the voltage at node point
0 and the surrounding nodes is the 5 point formula

This is derived by considering the Taylor series


expression about the node 0 [ 121. For regions where
Laplaces equation is satisfied this reduces to the
finite difference approximation.
v,+v,+v,+v,-41/,=0

(6)

(b)

(a)
;--+-$
I

12
t--

lo

14

L7-_

IF

Fig. 4. Types of nodes

1170

M. A. GREEN

Another relationship

and

is the 9 point formula[ 121

M. W. GUNN

This can be resolved to give


(15)

-g=pJ,

+6h*Vl+O(hX)

(7)

This produces a more powerful finite difference


approximation with an error proportional to a higher
power of the mesh interval.
Boundary nodes differ from the above interior
nodes in that some of their surrounding nodes lie
outside the specimen geometry. Two distinct
types, edge and corner nodes. are also given in
Fig. 4. Using a Taylor series approximation,
it
can be shown that

(8)
If the boundary condition
can be approximated by

given by equation

v, + I:,

pJ,

-g=

(16)

The current passing between current probes is


the current crossing a path such as AB (Fig. 5). If
p and h are set equal to unity, this is approximated
by the sum of the x component of current density
at points marked with crosses in Fig. 5. The x
component is found by a finite difference approximation to equation ( 15 ).
Current can be calculated similarly for polar
meshes, but the cross section where current is
calculated cannot pass through the origin.

(3)

(9)

the 5 point formula for an edge node becomes


v,+2v,+li,-44v
Similarly the corresponding

+ 0

(IO)

9 point formula is

4(l,+21/,+l,)+2l;+21i,-20l,,

+ 0 (1 I)
X

I
6

The formulae for a corner node become


Fig. S. Method

2l~+2l~--4l,,

+ 0

and
sv, + sv, + 4v, - 2ov,, - 0

(13)

Formulae for polar boundary nodes are derived


similarly.
Since, as shown above, the voltage at every node
can be expressed in terms of the voltages at surrounding nodes within the specimen geometry,
the resulting set of simultaneous equations can be
solved. The current flowing between the current
probes to maintain this calculated voltage distribution can be found using Ohms law.
E=pJ

of current

calculation

(12)

(14)

3.2 Solution of theJinite difference equations


The set of finite difference equations obtained
from the relationship at each node may be solved
by direct or iterative methods using a digital computer. The method used in the present work uas
Gauss-Seidel
iteration with over-relaxation [ 121.
This method converged for all geometries treated
in this paper and is briefly described below.
A simple voltage distribution
was initially
assumed throughout
the geometry. Consider a
point such as 0 in Fig. 4(a). The voltage relation
between it and the surrounding
nodes will in
general not be satisfied.
In general, for a 5 point formula, this can be
expressed as

FOUR

R=f(V,+V*+V,+v~)-vV,

POINT PROBE MEASUREMENTS

(17)

where R is the residue at the node 0. Assign s to


the voltage at the node 0 where
I; = L,,+ZR

(18)

where Z is the relaxation factor. By repeating


this relaxation procedure in a systematic manner
throughout all the nodes of the mesh a number of
times, the sum of the magnitude of the residues
decreases and the voltage distribution converges
to the required solution. The rate of convergence
is strongly dependent on the value assigned to Z.
One pass through the mesh was termed an iteration cycle and a number of such cycles were grouped
to form a batch. After each batch, the current was
calculated from the present state of the voltage
distribution.
This allowed the correction factor
to be calculated and compared with that obtained
from the previous batch. Once the solution had
stabilised to the desired number of significant
figures, the process was halted.
3.3 Accuracy of solutions
The accuracy of the finite difference solutions
was strongly dependent on the coarseness of the
dividing mesh. The correction factors obtained for
a linear probe located symmetrically on square and
circular specimens, are compared with previously
published results in Table 1. Located symmetrically
is defined as the probe array positioned such that
the centre of the probe array coincides with the
centre of the specimen, with the lines joining
adjacent probes parallel to the specimen sides for
rectangular specimens as indicated in Fig. 1 for an
in line array and Fig. 2 for a square array.
The results for rectangular
geometries were
obtained using 9 point formulae. Table 1 shows
that these finite difference results converge to the
correct solution at a rate inversely proportional
to the fourth power of the number of mesh intervals
between nodes. The results for circular specimens,
obtained using 5 point formulae and a polar mesh,
converged at a rate inversely proportional to this
quantity to the second power. Knowledge of the
convergence rate can be used to extrapolate to
more accurate results.
For both geometries, the accuracy obtained using
the coarser meshes was greater than that required
for physical measurements.
Use of extrapolation

produces more accurate


compilation of tables.

1171

results

suitable

for the

3.4 Square probe on rectangular specimens


To illustrate the usefulness of the finite difference
approach, resistivity correction factors were calculated for measurements with a square probe array
upon thin rectangular specimens. Factors for such
an array on circular[8] and square [4] specimens
have previously been published, but do not appear
to have been treated for the above configuration.
The work of Buehler and Pearson[ 131 suggests a
square array may prove more useful than the currently popular linear array, since it enables Hall
effect measurements to be obtained.
Table 2 lists the value of correction factor K
[equation (l)] obtained for rectangular geometries
with the probe array symmetrically located. Those
for a circular specimen are listed for completeness.
Using this table, resistivity measurements can be
made upon thin semiconductor
layers or slices
using a four point probe in a square array, provided
the specimen geometry is approximately circular
or rectangular. Measurements upon more arbitrary
geometries are treated in Section 5.
4. THREE DIMENSIONAL GEOMETRIES
4.1 Outline of method
Using a method analogous to that used in two
dimensions, the following basic 7 point formula
is obtained for a three dimensional cubical mesh
of mesh interval h [Fig. 6(a)].
~,+~,+~,+~,+~,+~,=6~~+hh2V*V+O(h4)
(19)

Because of the improvement in accuracy obtained


in the two dimensional case by using a 9 point
formulae instead of the basic 5 point formulae,
a similar improvement is desirable in three dimensions. There exist two separate sets of nodes
surrounding the central node capable of reducing
the error associated with the finite different approximation to equation (19). These two sets are called
the 8 point and the 12 point sets and are illustrated
in Figs. 6(b) and (c) respectively.
Designating
S6 = Il+Iz+I~+I~+I~+I~
S8 = sum of the 8 nodes (0) in Fig. 7(b)
S 12 = sum of the 12 nodes (0) in Fig. 7(c)

4.2209

3.36248

10

Extrapolated
result

3.5098
(3.50975)

tSquare due to Logan [Sl.


(Those in brackets computed using Hansens
Circular solution due to Swartzendruber[X].

Circular
specimen

Square
specimen

Analytical
solution?

(K).for

3.1134
(3.11343)

Probe spacing

fclctors

Side length
or diameter

Tuble 1. Correction

method[7]).

3.36244

3.35514
3.36074
3.36169

/,,

1.2 X 10-E

2.2 X 10-l
5.2 x 1lF
2.4 x 10-2

4
8
12

2
4

10
12
2
4
8
12

3.2 x lo-*
negligible
2.6 x 10-l
1.6 x lo-
9.0 x IO-1
negligible

3.11342
3.11343
3.5008
3.50918
3.50972
3.90975
3.1 x 10-l
2.1 x lo-

2
4

4.2080
4.2200

geometries

Mesh intervals
between probes

2.5 x 10-L
2.9 x lo-

% Error

3.11296
3.11334

Computed
by this method

linear probe rrrrcry on 2 dimensioned

111
421
931

121
441

441
625
36
121
441
963

25
81

total no.
of nodes

,/

120
120
270

80
210

1.50
120
80
100
150
400

100
100

No. of
iterations

(square and circular)

IO--
lo-
10-6
IO-6
10-S
lo-

2x 10-7
9x 10-j
2 x lo-s

8 x 10ms
3 x 10-6

2x
6x
3x
3x
1x
1x

4x 10-e
6 x IO-

Sum of
residues
.3

5
Z

c!

Z
Z
p:
Z

FOUR

Table 2. Correction

factors

POINT

PROBE

(K) for square point probe array symmetrically


geometries (rectangular and circular)
Rectangular

Side length or diameter


Probe spacing

= 4
s

1173

MEASUREMENTS

Circular
specimen

1.0
1.25
1.5
1.75
2.0
2.5
3.0
4.0
5.0
7.0
10.0
-00

a/d=

1.0

4.5324
4.5477
4.6508
4.8526
5.1168
5.7028
6.25 16
7.0969
7.6504
8.2581
86434
9.0647

4.5437
4.6778
49052
5.4593
6.0052
6.8803
7.4739
8.1442
8.5795
9.0647

a/d = 1.2
2.8667
3.3358
3.7832
4.2321
4.6701
54677
6.1273
7.0662
76495
8.2694
8.6528
9.0647

located

specimen
a/d=

1.5

2.0936
2.7101
3.3044
3.8710
4.3988
5.3127
6.0373
7.0350
7.6392
8.26%
8.655 1
9.0647

on 2 dimensional

(Fig. 2)
a/d = 2.0

a/d = 4.0

1.7822
24454
3.0939
3.7070
4.2716
5.2358
5.98%
7.0156
7.6306
8.2680
8.6550
9.0647

1.7076
2.3810
3.0418
36658
4.2391
5.2157
5.9773
7.0102
7.6281
8.2673
8.6549
9.0647

070

I
025

I
05

I
0.75

I
125

I.0

\\
I.5

175

20

U/8

Fig. 7. F vs. w/s [equation


(24)] for linear probe
symmetrically
located
on rectangular
specimen
d/a = 2.0 (Fig. 1).

array
with

expression involving even higher powers of h


14S6+3S12+SS
(b)

(cl

Fig. 6. (a) Basic

then

node configuration;
(b) Eight
(c)Twelve
point set.

set:

it has been shown elsewhere[ 141


2S6+Sl2
8S6+S8

Combining

SSEVol.

point

14.No.

II-H

= 24f,+6hVV+O(ha)

(20)

= 56V,+ 12hZV2f+O(hS)

(21)

these two equations

produces

an

= 12W0+O(hs)

(22)

The expressions given by equations (21) and


(22) were termed the 15 point and 27 point
formulae respectively. These formulae are computationally more efficient than that given by equation (19), and also require fewer node point values
to be stored to obtain a given accuracy. Results
obtained from them are compared in Table 3.
Extrapolation based on a convergence
rate
inversely proportional to the fourth power of the
mesh intervals between the probe nodes gave
results in excellent agreement with those derived

M. A. GREEN

1174

and M. W. GUNN

Table 3. Correction factors (K) for linear probe array on square specimens
Side length
6
Probe spacing = s

Mesh intervals
between probes

48
245
700
1521

Extrapolated
5

Total no.
of nodes

results
I08
605

Extrapolated results
tobtained

15 Point result

2 2402
2.2471
2.2479
2.2484
3.1804
X2835
3.291

of thickness w = s (Fig. I )

27 Point result

Analytical
solution?

2.2222
2.2465
2.2480
2.2484
3.2644

2.2483
3.2922

using Hansens method[7].

analytically.
The boundary nodes and the solution
of the finite difference
equations
are treated
analogously
to the two dimensional
problems.
4.2 The effect qfsample thickness
The effect of increasing sample thickness on the
accuracy
of four point probe correction
factors
has been investigated
previously
for the case of
infinite
sheets
of uniform
thickness.
Smits[2]
expressed
the resistivity
of an infinite sheet of
uniform thickness,
IQ. for a linear probe in the form

(23)
where s is the probe spacing, and F(w/s) is a thickness factor which approaches
unity as nlapproaches
zero.
Smits suggested
as an approximation
to the
more complex case of a geometry
bounded in all
three dimensions.
the expression

where K is the correction


factor for the corresponding
2 dimensional
geometry,
and F(w/s) is
the thickness
factor for an infinite geometry
as
mentioned
above.
Using the method
of finite
difference,
the validity of this approximation
was
investigated
for specimens
in the form of rectangular bars. Typical results are shown in Fig. 7.
For a linear probe array symmetrically
located
on such a specimen,
with the current probes away
from the sample edge, the term F(w/s) was smaller
than the value required
to make equation
(24)
correct. As the lateral dimensions
of the specimen

became
large compared
with the probe spacing,
the approximation
improved.
This result would be
expected
to hold for other three dimensional
geometries
of uniform
thickness.
In general,
the
approximation
given by Smits would yield a value
of resistivity
lower than the theoretically
correct
value.
5. SPECIMENS OF ARBITRARY GEOMETRY
As it was found difficult to fit the basic linear or
square probe army to a polar mesh when the array
was located arbitrarily, the use of a square mesh for
a curved body was investigated
for two dimensional
geometries.
The simplest approach is to cover the
geometry
of interest
by a square mesh and to
approximate
the specimen
boundary
by mesh
lines and mesh diagonals.
This linear approximation to the specimen
boundary
produced
results
better than a few percent
accurate
for circular
specimens.
However
a more elegant technique
developed
by Viswanathan
[ 151 produced
results
at least an order of magnitude
more accurate for
the same mesh size. This method
is outlined
below.
An arbitrary geometry covered by a square mesh
produces nodes mostly surrounded
by nodes within
the boundary
(Fig. 8). These were called interior
modes and can be treated
by the usual finite
difference
techniques.
The classes of nodes with
only 3 node and 2 nodes within one mesh interval
lying inside the boundary
were labelled edge and
corner nodes respectively.
Consider
a typical
edge node (Fig. 9). The
approach
used by Viswanathan
produces
a finite
difference formula for this node in the form

FOUR

POINT

PROBE

(aj

117.5

MEASUREMENTS

(b)

Fig. 8. (a) Arbitrary geometry covered by mesh; (b) Eliminating


external nodes.

Fig. 9. Edge node.

Fig. 10. Corner node.

where
1+m*
A = l-m+2el_mZ+ep,

h mq(l

+m*)
l-m

as 2, 3,4, and 0 in the edge node case with h, the


distance between nodes replaced by hl ti.
Replacing h by h/V? wherever h occurs in the
edge node formula gives
z4V,+BV,+cV,-DV;

=o

(26)

>
But since 0 is surrounded
c=

I+m+2rw&~y(:+mm2)
PA

by 0,3,7,4,

we have

v; =I(v,+v,+v,+v,)

(27)

Combining equations (26) and (27) gives

D = 4 1 +e~+e;~!m;))
(

(4A-D)V3+(4B-D)V,+(4C-D)V,
pA = radius of curvature

of the boundary at point

A (Fig. 9).
E, h, a are defined in Fig. 9.
m= tana

Next, consider a typical corner node (Fig. 10).


The points 3, 7, 4,O are in the same configuration

-DV,=O

(28)

This is the required formula for a comer node.


Although bulky from the point of view of hand
computation, these formulae were readily evaluated
by digital computer. The coefficients, A, B, etc.,

M. A. GREEN

1176

and

were calculated
from geometrical
input data and
stored in a matrix form, the relevant
set being
brought into the iteration scheme when a boundary
node was reached by the relaxation process [ 141.
This method
required
the recording
of the
quantities,
p, E, and OLin addition to a basic mesh
description
as required
by the mesh line and
diagonal approximation.
To illustrate the accuracy
of this approach,
results obtained
for both linear
and square probe array measurements
upon circular
specimens
using the technique
are presented
in
Table 4. By comparison
with those obtained for
circular specimens
using a polar mesh (Table I),
it can be seen that this method produces results at
least as accurate
as the previous
technique
for a
given number of nodes, and has the advantage that
both arbitrary
geometries
and arbitrary
probe
locations
on these
geometries
can be accommodated.
6. DISCUSSION
The techniques
discussed
in this paper were
incorporated
into programmes
written in FORTRAN IV. Using a PDP 10 digital computer, computation time was approximately
20 set for typical
problems
involving
about 400 node points,
although efficiency was improved for larger problems
using mesh halving techniques.
The optimum value
of relaxation factor, 2 [equation (18)] was found to
be 1.86 for rectangular
specimens.
In some cases,
it was possible to take advantage
of problem symmetry to reduce the number of nodes required as
was possible in preparing the results of Table I.
In the application
of numerical techniques
to the
four point probe problem, the particular technique
chosen
was appealing
because
of the simplicity
Table

4. Correction

Probe
array

factor

Diameter
Probe spacing

(K)

d
= s

for

*Advantage

circular specimens
geometries
Computed

solution

by this
method

4
5

2.9289
3.3625

10
2
5

4.1716
49052
7.4739

was taken of symmetry.

of the algorithm and the resulting ease of programming in addition


to the fact that 3 dimensional
specimens
and specimens
of arbitrary
geometry
could be accommodated
without altering the basic
algorithm.
It was found that 9 point formulae in 2 dimensions and corresponding
formulae in 3 dimensions
were superior to the commonly
used 5 point and
7 point formulae because they handled the current
probe signularities
without
the complication
of
special
singularity
formulae.
Although
these
formulae
(the 5 point formula
excepted)
lack
Youngs
property
A[ 121, no difficulty was encountered
in obtaining
convergence
using point
successive
overrelaxation.
Thus block iterative
methods were not mandatory but optional.
As demonstrated
by the results given in Tables
I and 4, accuracy
adequate
for experimental
use
was obtained using small numbers of mesh points.
Refinements
such as incorporating
special singularity formulae [ 161 and using energy methods [ 171 to
obtain bounds on the solution would be helpful
for the efficient compilation
of tables.
A paper by Chawla and Gummel [ 181 has been
brought
to the authors attention
by a reviewer.
That paper describes a method of solving Laplaces
equation
numerically
by transforming
singular
boundary
points and assuming
a linear potential
distribution
between other points on the boundary.
Cauchys
integral formula is then used to derive
relations between the potentials at boundary points
and the values of a suitably chosen stream function.
Solutions are obtained by the direct inversion of a
matrix of order approximately
equal to the number
of boundary
points
chosen,
offering
increased
efficiency
over conventional
techniques [ 191 for

Analytical

Linear
array
Square
array

M. W. GUNN

2.9292
3.3591
3.3641
3.3637
4.1730
4.8997
7.4777

obtained

using

programme

Mesh intervals
between probes

for

arbitrury

Approx. no
of nodes

% Error
I.0 x
1.0 x
4.8 x
3.6 x
3.4 x
1.1 x
5.1 x

10-z
IO-
IO-
lOmy
IF
10-l
I@

10
4
4
8
4
10
4

330 f
220
85 .
330.
330-F
330
330

FOUR

POlNT

PROBE

the solution of Laplaces equation over 2 dimensional regions with Dirichlet or Neumann (or a
combination of both) types of boundary conditions.
In the present context, this method would
possibly increase efficiency for 2 dimensional
problems (regular and arbitrary geometries) with
the sacrifice of the simple algorithm described, but
the number of boundary nodes required to describe
3 dimensional specimens would be excessive. More
importantly for the more general boundary conditions which arise when obtaining Hall effect
measurements using the four point probe[ 131, the
finite difference technique described in this paper
can be used with negligible change in solution
algorithm [ 141.
7. CONCLUSION

useful approach has been presented for the


calculation of geometrical effects in four point
probe resistivity
measurements.
The method,
based on a finite difference solution of Laplaces
equation, has been tested by comparison of results
with those previously
published.
Using this
approach, results have been obtained for resistivity
measurements
with a square probe array on rectangular specimens which do not appear to have
been previously reported.
The effect of specimen thickness on the accuracy
of resistivity measurement has also been investigated. For the solution of Laplaces equation over a
three dimensional
region divided by a cubical
mesh, it has been shown that formulae based on
more than the usual six surrounding nodes have
advantages in computing efficiency and storage
requirements.
The numerical technique used is particularly
powerful compared with analytical methods in
that it is suitable for geometries of an arbitrary
A

1177

MEASUREMENTS

nature, thus providing an alternative to the van der


Pauw peripheral contact method of resistivity
measurement
upon such specimens. Additional
advantages claimed for the technique are its basic
simplicity, its ability to handle arbitrary probe
configurations and locations, and the fact that it
can be extended to cases of non uniform resistivity
distribution. It is particularly suited for use with
high speed digital computers.
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