SIMS is the most sensitive of all commonly used surface analytical techniques and has several further advantages over them:
It has the smallest sampling depth for the ultimate in surface and depth specificity when investigating the microscopic detail of the 3D chemistry of solids. This is especially important for the successful analysis of contamination and other very thin nanofilms or multilayers in the thickness range 1 nanometer to several microns.
Based on mass spectrometry it combines a key advantage over other surface spectroscopies of excellent simultaneous inorganic and organic analysis. Further analytical power is provided by isotopic discrimination and the ability to acquire both positive and negative secondary ion spectra.
Although the SIMS technique works by sputtering analyte material from the sample, operating in the so-called static mode (very low primary ion current density allows the absolutely reproducible analysis of delicate organics at the surface of materials. The dynamic (continuous sputtering) mode allows information from the third dimension to be obtained very easily, at high (nanoscale) depth resolution and in the case of SAI’s continuous primary beam system, without any compromise between depth profiling speed and data density. This is because the SAI orthogonal TOF enables a very high duty cycle relative to the pulsed primary beam operation found in most other SIMS.
The SIMS instruments from SAI include the MiniSIMS, a completely integrated surface analysis system in an award winning desktop format designed to avoid the complexity and high cost per sample of traditional UHV SIMS.
The high throughput MiniSIMS requires only a standard wall socket power connection and can be used as a standalone tool for fast routine analysis in all three SIMS modes or in conjunction with single mode UHV SIMS for complementary analysis capability (e.g. to provide static SIMS in conjunction with low mass range depth profiling SIMS).
The hyperspectral imaging capability of the MiniSIMS-ToF combined with efficient depth profiling allow complete 3D spatial pixel arrays with full or partial mass spectra at every pixel to be acquired.
In this way, a very comprehensive picture of the surface and sub surface chemistry of solid samples can be acquired with minimal setup and analysed retrospectively.
The MiniSIMS is available as the entry level Alpha system based on a quadrupole mass spectrometer for QC and routine process monitoring tasks, or as the more powerful MiniSIMS-ToF instrument intended for more advanced R&D or failure analysis roles.
The MiniSIMS alpha is a cost effective instrument in research or process optimisation, for fast analysis of a specific surface property or repetitive analysis of multiple samples
The MiniSIMS ToF has a superior level of performance for probing the unknown, investigating smaller surface features and extracting more information from organic samples.
Surface & Interface analysis
The Importance of surfaces and interfaces.
Material surfaces are all around us. Their appearance ranges from the mundane to the spectacular, but in every case surface effects dominate the interaction with the surrounding environment. Often surface properties are taken for granted until problems such as poor adhesion or corrosion appear. Increasingly the surface properties of low-cost materials are being dramatically altered and enhanced. Ion implantation, plasma treatment and thin film deposition are just some of the methods used to modify a surface to achieve a specific goal, whether it be functional or just cosmetic. Surface engineering underpins the development of modern nanomaterials that are lighter, cheaper and more reliable than their predecessors.
In the research laboratory, surface engineering is impossible without surface understanding. Knowledge of the surface structure and chemical composition at a molecular scale is a vital part of new material design. Interaction mechanisms and changes introduced at the surface during use can be investigated, cutting development times to maintain products at the forefront of technology. In manufacturing, surface contamination is a recurrent issue. Early detection and rapid resolution of this and other production problems reduces waste and increases efficiency. Surface analysis as part of quality control will improve the reproducibility and reliability of existing products. Failure analysis feeds back into improved product and process design. Both of these functions are amply served by the MiniSIMS range of surface and interface analytical instruments using the well known technique of secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS).