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Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry

Dynamic SIMS mode

In dynamic SIMS mode, the primary ion dose used to sputter the sample is not limited. In this mode, ELEMENTAL and ISOTOPIC information are provided. Surface, "bulk" and 2D/3D analyses can be obtained.

The ionization yield of most elements varies by decades, depending on the chemical environment. This property is used in SIMS instruments to increase the sensitivity of the technique: a dynamic SIMS instrument must be equipped with Oxygen and Cesium primary ion beams in order to enhance, respectively, positive and negative secondary ion intensity by 2 to 3 orders of magnitude compared to the use of noble gas ions. When sending keV ions onto a solid surface, (at least !) three phenomena occur simultaneously:

  • Secondary particules ejected by collision cascades from the top atomic monolayers of the target.
  • Ionization of a small fraction of the secondary particles,
  • Primary ion implantation in the solid (and associated change of composition, surface work function, etc...).

Starting from the surface (or going through an interface), while the primary ion dose implanted in the target increases, the primary species concentration (oxygen or cesium) will reach an equilibrium depending on the sputtering conditions and the nature of the target. This equilibirum corresponds to a sputtering steady state, and as soon as it is achieved, reliable quantification is possible with reference standard samples, using Relative Sensitivity Factors.

One of the main application of dynamic SIMS is the in-depth distribution analysis of trace elements (for example, dopant in semiconductors). Impact ion energy is adjusted depending on the applications. Low energy (down to 150eV) is used to reduce atomic mixing due to the collision cascade and improve depth resolution down to the sub-nanometer level. High energy (up to 20 keV) is chosen to investigate deeper (10-20 microns), faster (sputter rate of µm per min range), and improve detection limits and image resolution. 
All CAMECA SIMS instruments are optimized for dynamic SIMS analysis.

More on SIMS:   Introduction   -   Static Mode

The CAMECA instruments are based on 4 major surface and interface analysis techniques:

CAMECA Magnetic Sector SIMS:

CAMECA Quadrupole SIMS:

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