Secondary ion mass spectrometry

Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) is the most sensitive surface analysis technique. SIMS provides information about the elemental, isotopic and molecular composition of sample’s uppermost atomic layers. The sample is bombarded with ion beams making SIMS a destructive method.

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What is secondary ion mass spectrometry?

Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) is the most sensitive surface analysis technique. It can be used to measure all the elements in the surface layers, and it can provide isotopical and molecular information. SIMS is typically applied to inorganic solid materials. Accurate quantification of the results 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 it permeates the surface. Some ions in the collisions 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. Then the negative and positive secondary ions are transferred to the mass spectrometer for detection.

Static vs. dynamic SIMS

Static 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 depth profile of dynamic SIMS can be up to several hundred nm.

Need a SIMS analysis?

Measurlabs offers secondary ion mass spectrometry analyses of high quality and affordable prices. If you have any questions about your sample or it’s suitability for the method, our experts are always happy to help. You can contact us through the form below or by emailing us at

Suitable sample matrices

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

Ideal uses of SIMS

  • Secondary ion mass spectrometry is used for elemental, isotopic and molecular composition analyses of solid materials.
  • SIMS is used for elemental surface layer analysis of thin films.

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Frequently asked questions

What is SIMS commonly used for?

SIMS is used for elemental and isotopic characterisation of surface layers in solid materials.

What are the limitations of SIMS?

Solid samples that can tolerate vacuumization can be analysed. It should also be noted that SIMS is a destructive method.

What kind of samples can be analyzed with SIMS?

Solid samples can be analyzed with SIMS.

Sample must tolerate vacuumization because charged particle beams require a vacuum environment.

Typically samples are 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.