Depth profile analysis with SIMS

In secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), the specimen surface is removed layer by layer using an ion beam. A mass spectrometer enables the chemical characterization of the material that is removed.

Benefits

  • Quantitative concentration depth profiles in the range of a few nanometres to a ten or more micrometers in depth
  • Chemical examination of boundary layers and surfaces
  • Trace element detection with very high sensitivity (< 1 ppm)
  • Detection of all elements (including hydrogen)
  • Preparation of depth profiles, also on technical objects such as components or tools

Calibration of the concentrations is a special challenge in secondary ion mass spectroscopy since the raw intensities can fluctuate by many magnitudes due to matrix effects. It is made possible by applying the Cs+ cluster method and a pool of more than 300 different calibration materials that are used as adapted calibration standards. Our experience is especially extensive in the field of tribological protective films (DLC, metal-DLC nitride, carbide and so on) and optical multilayer systems with metallic and oxidic films in the thickness range of a few nanometres. Applications are found in all areas of mechanical engineering and tool construction, the automobile industry, the glass coating industry and the field of decorative films and consumer goods.

SIMS depth profile of a wear-resistant coating

SIMS depth profile of a wear-resistant coating
© Fraunhofer IST

SIMS depth profile of a TiCN film with intermediate layers.

Wear-resistant coatings consist of a Ti undercoating, a TiN intermediate layer, a stepped TiCN gradient and a TiCN(H) functional coating.

SIMS depth profile of a thermal insulation coating on architectural glass

SIMS depth profile of a thermal insulation coating on architectural glass
© Fraunhofer IST

Double Ag low-E layer system of various oxidic and metallic layers with thicknesses between 3 and 30 nm.

Determination of hydrogen in DLC coatings

SIMS profile determination of hydrogen in DLC coatings
© Fraunhofer IST

The mechanical and tribological properties of diamond-like-carbon (DLC) coatings are determined by the hydrogen content of the carbon top coating. By means of SIMS this hydrogen content can be determined quantitatively.

Depth profile analysis on curved surfaces

Position-dependent variation of the impact angle with curved surfaces.
© Fraunhofer IST

Position-dependent variation of the impact angle with curved surfaces.

Using SIMS, the depth profiles of curved surfaces can be quantified. An extremely careful adjustment of the measuring position is of particular importance.

Further information