The European Physical Journal Applied Physics

Imaging, Microscopy and Spectroscopy

Focussing of a transient low energy Cs+ probe for improved NanoSIMS characterizations

Study of charged particle optics*

M. Bernheima1, T. D. Wua2a3, J. L. Guerquin-Kerna2a3 and A. Croisya2a3

Laboratoire de Physique des Solides, Univ. Paris-Sud, UMR CNRS 8502, 91405 Orsay, France

Institut Curie, Laboratoire de Microscopie Ionique, 91405 Orsay, France

INSERM, U759, 91405 Orsay, France


Surface caesium content is known to greatly influence the negative ion yield during SIMS analyses. In NanoSIMS, a 16 keV ion probe of Cs+simultaneously performs the surface enrichment and the sample sputtering. To increase the surface caesium content and thus generate higher ion yields, it is suggested herein to significantly reduce the energy of the primary ions by biasing the sample with a positive voltage slightly smaller than the voltage of 8000 V that is used for primary ion acceleration. Then, once the typical bias voltages are restored, SIMS analysis may carried out with increased sensitivity right from the beginning of the sample erosion. The use of such a procedure may improve many types of SIMS investigations such as thin sections of biological samples, semiconductor wafers shallowly doped over very small areas and small meteorite samples. However, during deceleration close to the sample surface, the beam size is markedly enlarged unless the excitation of the objective lens is corrected. In this study, optics simulations are performed using Simion 8 in order to facilitate adjustment of the experimental setups. An objective lens excitation set at E0P = 0 V and E0S = +5930 V focuses a 100 eV caesium beam into an area 9.2 μm in diameter. Even for a final energy as low as 25 eV, 90% and 50% of the beam is confined to areas of 30 μm and 4 μm in diameter respectively (with electrodes E0P and E0S set at 3150 and 5450 V and using a beam slightly limited in angle). The procedures being suggested will be confirmed by experimental studies soon to be submitted as complementary contribution. As predicted, caesium rich surfaces greatly improve ion yield and consequently localised SIMS analysis as well.

(Received January 10 2008)

(Revised February 13 2008)

(Accepted March 4 2008)

(Online publication April 30 2008)


  • 68.37.-d – Microscopy of surfaces, interfaces, and thin films;
  • 79.20.Rf – Atomic, molecular, and ion beam impact and interactions with surfaces Electron and ion channeling;
  • 87.64.-t – Spectroscopic and microscopic techniques in biophysics and medical physics


*  The correlated experiments will be reported soon in part B.