Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS)

Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) is technique used for surface material characterization of a solid specimen. SIMS is recognized as the most sensitive elemental, isotopic and molecular composition analysis the uppermost atomic layers of the specimen. The following are a few strength and limitations of SIMS :


  • The analysis consumes very small sample (essentially non-destructive).
  • High sensitivity means that specimens with low concentration levels (down to Parts Per Billion levels) can be analyzed with SIMS.
  • High sensitivity also allows for depth profiling of molecular and elemental abundances as well as isotopic ratios.
  • SIn situ analysis eliminates the need for complex sample preparation in most cases.


  • Because both atomic and molecular species are produced during sputtering of the samples, not all elements in all substrates (matrices) can be analyzed quantitatively.

Typical Applications:

  • Measuring quantitative depth profiling of dopants and impurities in semiconductor substrates.
  • Identifying lubricants on magnetic hard discs.
  • Profiling thickness of insulating films on glass.
  • Mapping elemental and molecular patterned surfaces.
  • Identifying compounds in thin organic films.
  • Determining the extent of crosslinking in polymers.
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