Experimental study of the organic ion intensity distribution in the ion imaging of coated polymer fibres with S-SIMS

Yannick Vercammen*, Nicola Moons, Sebastiaan Van Nuffel, Linda Beenaerts, Luc Van Vaeck

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Time-of-Flight Static Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry excels in probing the molecular composition of the outer monolayer of flat samples with a lateral resolution in the sub-mu m range. However, the method faces significant methodological problems in the case of non-conducting samples with high topography or surface curvature, such as fibres, yarns or fabrics. Specifically, the useful secondary ion yield in a given spot on the fibre depends on the local incidence angle, the height above the earthed sample holder, the position relative to the axis of the mass analyser and the extent of the local surface charging. This study has focused on the empiric reduction of the useful ion yield variations observed in the ion images of fibres with diameter of 25 and 100 mu m. Up to now, most literature data consider the analysis of fibres positioned along or perpendicular to the projection of the projectile beam in the plane of the sample surface because these specific geometries facilitate the interpretation of the ion images. However, it has been discovered that the diagonal orientation of the fibre in the field-of-view largely reduces the ion yield variations for fibres with a small diameter (25 mu m). The situation is different for fibres with a diameter of 100 mu m. In that case, the ion images contain no secondary ion counts for the pixels referring to a significant part of the fibre. In particular, the resulting lack of delineation between the shadow zone in the front of the fibre and the boundary of the fibre hampers the practical use of the ion images A fourfold decrease of the extraction voltage or a 20% increase of the distance between sample holder and extraction electrode is found to improve the detection of secondary ions from the part of the fibre facing towards the impinging primary ion beam. These observations have been tentatively related to the mass analyser acceptance and its dependence on the delicate balance between conflicting effects such as field strength and curvature of the field lines, secondary ion emission angle and initial kinetic energy and difference in local surface potential due to the position in the extraction field and charge build-up during analysis. (C) 2013 Elsevier B. V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)354-365
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Surface Science
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • SIMS
  • Surface analysis
  • Molecular analysis
  • Nano-analysis
  • Polymer
  • HAIR


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