Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS) is an ion beam analysis method for determining the elemental composition of thin films. RBS provides film thickness and depth profiles of surfaces and detects the energies and numbers of backscattered ions.
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What is Rutherford backscattering spectrometry?
Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS) is an ion beam technique for thin film characterization and studying solid surfaces. The technique gives quantitative information about the number of different elements present on the surface of the samples. Typically, RBS is able to measure depth profiles of thin films that are <1 µm thick. RBS is suitable for the analysis of heavy elements on a light substrate, but light elements on a heavy substrate cannot be detected. The strength of the RBS technique is its ability to provide depth profiles for multiple elements during one measurement without reference standards.
Unlike many other thin film techniques including SIMS and cross-section SEM-EDX, RBS is a nondestructive method when used for surface analysis. Typically, RBS uses a high-energy beam of He2+ ions that is directed onto a sample surface. Some of the incoming ions are scattered elastically from the sample's atomic nuclei. These backscattered ions are detected and the energy distributions and yield of ions at a given angle are measured. The detected energy is dependent on the mass of the target nucleus and the depth of the scattering event.
Suitable sample matrices
- Thin films
- Optical coatings
Ideal uses of RBS analysis
- Determining the thickness of films and coatings
- Analyzing the composition of thin films
- Determining the depth profiles of a sample's surface layers
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Frequently asked questions
RBS is used to analyze the elemental composition of solid surfaces. The technique can give elemental information on the surface of a solid sample down to ~1000 nm depth.
RBS is not suitable for the analysis of light elements in heavy matrices. The sample must also be vacuum compatible.
Thin films, semiconductors, and coatings are common sample materials for RBS analysis.
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