TOF-SIMS Technique: Advanced Ion Beam Technology for Surface Analysis

February 07, 2024 2 min read

TOF-SIMS Technique: Advanced Ion Beam Technology for Surface Analysis

Introduction to TOF-SIMS Technique 

An acronym for the combination of the analytical technique SIMS (Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry) with Time-of-Flight mass analysis (TOF), this sensitive technique is well established for many industrial and research applications.

The technique provides detailed elemental and molecular information about the surface, thin layers, interfaces of the sample, and gives a full three-dimensional analysis. The uses of this technique are widespread, including semiconductors, polymers, paint, coatings, glass, paper, metals, ceramics, biomaterials, pharmaceuticals and organic tissue.

SIMS is a very surface sensitive technique because the emitted particles originate from the uppermost one or two monolayers. Whereas, TOF mass spectrometry is based on the fact that ions with the same energy but different masses travel with different velocities. Major advantages of this approach over quadrupole and magnetic sector type analysers are the extremely high transmission, the parallel detection of all masses and the unlimited mass range.


Surface Spectrometry 

The aim of a static SIMS investigation is the analysis of the original, non-modified surface composition. As SIMS in principle is a destructive technique this means that the contribution of those secondary ions to the spectrum originating from already bombarded surface areas to the spectrum must be negligible. This quasi non-destructive surface analysis can be achieved by the application of very low primary ion dose densities. Surface Spectroscopy provides detailed elemental and molecular information from the outer monolayers.



Surface Imaging

By rastering a fine-focused ion beam over the surface, like an electron beam in an electron microprobe, mass-resolved secondary ion images (chemical maps) can be obtained simultaneously.



Depth Profiling

For Depth Profiling two ion beams operate in the Dual Beam Mode. While the first beam is sputtering a crater, the second beam is progressively analysing the crater bottom.



3D Analysis

The visualization of 3D sample structures is possible by combining spectral, imaging and depth information. 3D Analysis is ideal for the investigation of complex and unknown structures or defects.

In particular the composition, shape and position of features and defects can be visualized.



Retrospective Analysis

As well as comprehensive on-line analysis, the parallel mass detection of the TOF-SIMS provides the means to carry out Retrospective Analysis. Regardless of the knowledge about the sample before the measurement, the data can be explored afterwards to look for unexpected results, such as unknown structures, contaminants at interfaces and so on.



Systems for Research: Your Guide to TOF-SIMS in Canada

Systems for Research is your resource and companion for IONTOF all across Canada. Together, we are making sure to provide Advanced ion beam technology for Surface Analysis accessible all across Canada.