Secondary ion mass spectrometry

Secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) is a highly sensitive surface analysis technique that provides information about the elemental, isotopic, and molecular composition of the sample's uppermost atomic layers. SIMS can also be used for depth profiling, allowing ppm to ppb level trace element detection as a function of depth.

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What is secondary ion mass spectrometry used for?

SIMS is a sensitive surface analysis technique used to quantify all the elements, including light ones, in the surface layers of a solid sample. The method can also provide isotopic and molecular information. SIMS is typically applied to inorganic solid materials, which makes it a popular semiconductor analysis technique. Accurate elemental quantification is achieved by comparison against well-calibrated standards.

How does SIMS analysis work?

In SIMS, the sample surface is bombarded with a primary ion beam. When the primary ion strikes the sample’s surface, it loses its charge and permeates the surface. Some ions in the collision cascade provide enough energy for atoms or molecules to be emitted from the surface. Some of these ejected or sputtered particles are ionized in the process. The negative and positive secondary ions are subsequently transferred to the mass spectrometer for detection.

Static vs. dynamic SIMS

Static SIMS (also known as ToF-SIMS) focuses on the first top monolayer of the sample and provides mainly molecular characterization with a depth profiling of approximately 1–2 nm. In dynamic SIMS, a more focused ion beam is used to create an erosion channel that enables analysis of bulk composition and in-depth distribution of trace elements. The profiling depth of dynamic SIMS can extend to 10 µm.

Need a SIMS analysis?

Measurlabs offers high-quality secondary ion mass spectrometry analyses at competitive prices. If you wish to request a quote or have any questions about your sample or its suitability for the method, our experts are always happy to help. You can contact us through the form below or at

Suitable sample matrices

  • Solid materials
  • Metals
  • Semiconductors
  • Ceramics
  • Polymers
  • Geological samples
  • Some biological materials

Ideal uses of SIMS

  • Elemental, isotopic, and molecular composition analyses of solid materials
  • Surface layer analysis of thin films

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  • Do you have a recurring need for these tests? If yes, how often and for how many samples at a time?

Have questions or need help? Email us at or call +358 50 336 6128.

Frequently asked questions

What is SIMS analysis commonly used for?

Static SIMS is used for elemental and isotopic characterization of surface layers in solid materials, while dynamic SIMS can be used for depth profiling, allowing elemental composition to be determined at different depths.

What are the limitations of SIMS?

Solid samples that can be put in a vacuum can be analyzed. It should also be noted that SIMS is a destructive method.

What kinds of samples can be analyzed with SIMS?

Secondary ion mass spectrometry is suitable for solid samples that tolerate being placed in a vacuum, as charged particle beams require a vacuum environment.

Samples are typically inorganic.

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.

How does the service work?

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.

How do I send my samples?

Samples are usually delivered to our laboratory via courier. Contact us for further details before sending samples.