Rutherford backscattering spectrometry

Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS) is an ion beam analysis method for determining elemental composition of thin films. It can give a film thickness and depth profiles of surfaces. RBS detects energies and numbers of backscattered ions.

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Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS) is an ion beam technique for thin film characterization and studying of solid surfaces. The technique gives quantitative information about the amount of different elements present in the surface of the samples. Typically, RBS is able to measure depth profiles of thin films that are < 1 µm, RBS is suitable to analyse heavy elements on a light substrate, but light elements on a heavy substrate are not able to detect with RBS. The strength of RBS is its ability to provide depth profiles for multiple elements during one measurement. Unlike many other thin film techniques including XPS depth profiling and cross-section SEM-EDX, RBS is a nondestructive method.

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 is 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
  • Semiconductors
  • Optical coatings

Ideal uses of RBS

  • Composition of thin films
  • Thickness of films and coatings.
  • Depth profiles of the surface layers.

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Frequently asked questions

What is RBS commonly used for?

RBS is used for elemental composition analysis of solid surfaces.

RBS can give elemental information of the surface of a solid sample down to ~1000 nm depth.

What are the limitations of RBS?

RBS is not suitable for analysis of light elements in heavy matrices

Sample must be vacuum compatible.

What kind of samples can be analyzed with RBS?

Especially thin films, semiconductors and coatings.

What is Measurlabs?

Measurlabs offers a variety of laboratory analyses for product developers and quality managers. We perform some of the analyses in our own lab, but mostly we outsource them to carefully selected partner laboratories. This way we can send each sample to the lab that is best suited for the purpose, and offer high-quality analyses with more than a thousand different methods to our clients.

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When you contact us through our contact form or by email, one of our specialists will take ownership of your case and answer your query. You get an offer with all the necessary details about the analysis, and can send your samples to the indicated address. We will then take care of sending your samples to the correct laboratories and write a clear report on the results for you.

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