Journal of Materials Science

, Volume 41, Issue 3, pp 873-903

First online:

Applications of Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) in Materials Science

  • D. S. McPhailAffiliated withThe Department of Materials, Imperial College Email author 

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Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) is a mature surface analysis technique with a vast range of applications in Materials Science. In this review article the SIMS process is described, the fundamental SIMS equations are derived and the main terminology is explained. The issue of quantification is addressed. The various modes of SIMS analysis including static SIMS, imaging SIMS, depth profiling SIMS and three-dimensional (3D) SIMS are discussed as are specialized analysis strategies such as the imaging of shallow bevels and cross-sections and reverse side analysis. SIMS is shown to be a useful sample preparation tool based on ion beam milling (with SIMS and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) analysis providing end-point detection). The case studies shown illustrate the application of SIMS to several important materials including semiconductors, superconductors, glass, stainless steel, micrometeoroids, solid oxide fuel cell components, museum artifacts, aerospace alloys and biomaterials. Strategies for introducing SIMS into undergraduate education and thus increasing awareness are described. Finally some informed guesses are made as to the future directions of SIMS.