Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (TOF-SIMS)

TOF-SIMS is one of the most powerful techniques to analyse solids since it gives the possibility to: image and chemically analyse samples, detect very small concentrations of molecules and elements (ppb) and sputter through samples to create a concentration depth profile (2D or 3D).

In practice, the sample is bombarded with primary ions (generally bismuth or gallium) and secondary ions ejected from the surface are analysed. The flight time of the ions as they travel through the analyzer serves to determine their mass to charge ratio and identify the ionic species, thereby allowing one to establish the composition of the sample’s surface layers.


Type of samples: organic or inorganic solids
Type of information obtained: elemental and molecular
Precision: Semi-quantitative
Detection limit: parts per billion (ppb)
Depth of analysis: first atomic layers with the possibility of creating profiles one to two microns deep
Smallest measurable area: around 1 micron in diameter



-Identification of surface contaminants
-Surface mapping
-Depth chemical profiles



Elemental and molecular analysis
Surface analysis with the possibility of creating profiles
Chemical imaging and mapping

Semi-quantitative analysis
Comparatively long and complex analysis
Analysis under vacuum

-Analysis of contaminants in the electronics industry

-Chemical mapping of alloys and minerals

-Detection and identification of greases of the surface of containers

Elements detected: Hydrogen – Uranium, all the isotopes

Resolution/sensitivity : 0.0001 amu, 108 – 1011 at/cm2 (ppb)

Depth resolution : 1 – 3 monolayers

Lateral resolution : ≥ 100 nm

Measurement temperature = -196 to +600o C

Manufacturer : IONTOF


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