Education & Outreach > Short Courses > Short Course Catalog > Materials Characterization > Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry

Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry

Time of Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry

Course Objectives

  • Understand the principles of secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToF-SIMS).
  • Become familiar with the basics of ToF-SIMS instrumentation.
  • Learn about sample handling and preparation when working with UHV equipment including avoiding common contaminants and how to work with non-standard and challenging samples.
  • Learn guidelines on collecting spectral, image and depth profile data.
  • Understand the basics of ToF-SIMS data processing.
  • Learn the basics of multivariate analysis and how to apply it to ToF-SIMS data.
  • Learn how ToF-SIMS can be applied to many different fields.

Course Description

Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS) is used widely throughout industrial and academic research due to the high information content of the chemically specific data it produces. Modern ToF-SIMS instruments can generate high mass resolution data that can be displayed as spectra and images (2D and 3D). This enables determining the distribution of molecules across and into a surface and provides access to information not obtainable from other methods. With this detailed chemical information comes a steep learning curve in how to properly acquire and interpret the data.  This course will cover the basics of using SIMS from sample preparation considerations, to collecting quality data, through how to properly process and display the results.

The SIMS process will be explained along with relevant information about the sputtering process, ion beams, secondary ion yield and information depth.  Along with this, the instrumentation most commonly used will be discussed including typical ion sources and analyzers. 

Special considerations for UHV sample preparation and handling will be discussed in regards to ToF-SIMS.  Examples of how to mount and analyze non-standard and challenging samples will be provided.  Information will also be provided on how to optimize the number of samples, number of spots analyzed and analysis conditions used to acquire quality data with sufficient replicates for statistical significance.   

The basics of data calibration, understanding what is contained in the data, how to recognize isotopes and peak patterns, how to identify peaks, and how to present and display ToF-SIMS data will also be provided.  In addition, an introduction to advanced data analysis methods such as PCA will be discussed.

Examples of the various types of ToF-SIMS data (mass spectra, ion images and depth profiles) will be given. Applications will be discussed for insulators, metals, minerals, polymers and biological and biomaterial samples.

Course Materials

Course Notes

Course Cost: $790

Who should attend?

Scientists, engineers, technicians, and others who desire a practical, current understanding of the acquisition and interpretation of SIMS data.


Dan Graham
University of Washington, Senior Research Scientist