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Vacuum and Surfaces Laboratory: Surface Analyses

Surface analysis by Auger and SIMS/SNMS spectrometry

The facility for surface analyses is equipped with an Auger spectrometer and a secondary ion mass/secondary neutral mass spectrometer (SIMS / SNMS).

With the Auger spectrometer it is possible to determine the elemental composition (by atomic number Z ≥ 3) of the surfaces of specimens inserted under vacuum in the analysis chamber. The analysis consists in using a primary electron beam to excite the Auger electrons, which have characteristic energies for the different elements. An ion gun is used to progressively erode the surface and thereby determine the radial profile of the concentration of the various elements in the specimen.

With the SIMS/SNMS spectrometer it is possible to determine all the elements, including hydrogen, present on the specimen, by detecting the secondary ions (SIMS) or neutrons (SNMS) emitted by sputtering when a beam of primary energetic ions hits the surface. The secondary ions or neutrons, which are successively ionised for the analysis, are separated according to their mass/load ratio by a mass spectrometer.

Auger spectrometry and SIMS have a wide range of applications, particularly in the fields of microelectronics, metallurgy, and materials science in general as they are both consolidated, reliable and versatile surface analysis techniques. Typical applications deriving from the work at the Vacuum and Surface Laboratories are measurements of impurity concentrations and deuterium deposited on samples exposed to the FTU plasma, studies on the corrosion of structural materials and verification of the homogeneity of superconducting films.

Auger and SIMS/SNMS spectrometersAuger and SIMS/SNMS spectrometers