The modern world features a series of developments and technological changes day in day out. As such, the ability to understand, control, and benefit from these changes and new ideas is essential. Consequently, analytical instrumentation is continually evolving and expanding its capabilities to meet the demands of the current and future analytical solutions.

How to Sims works

TOF-SIMS (Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry) refers to a surface analytical technique that allows researchers to identify elemental, molecular, and isotopic information from the surface of solid samples. It directs a pulsed beam of primary ions onto the sample’s surface to trigger a collision cascade which then produces the secondary ions. The secondary ions are then redirected to a time of flight mass analyzer to be detected.

Analyzing the secondary ions helps one obtain more information about the inorganic, molecular, and elemental substances present on the surface. For instance, if a specific sample has organic pollutants like oils absorbed on the surface, the TOF-SIMS technique can directly identify the oils. TOF-SIMS is a survey technique that can detect any element of the periodic table. This analysis technique can also obtain mass spectral data and depth profile information.

Common applications of TOF-SIMS

Trace metal detection

In the semiconductor industry, detecting and quantifying trace metals is a very critical analytical function. With isotope sensitivity, TOF-SIMS can detect every element, including the light ones. The high mass accuracy, resolution, and robust signal-to-noise ratio facilitate sensitivities down to 1E7-1E9 atoms per cm2. That means that the TOF-SIMS technique applies to wafers with patterns without losing its sensitivity.

Organic contaminants

Obtaining data on organic contaminants is also crucial in the semiconductor industry. The TOF-SIMS analysis technique provides detailed organic and inorganic data on the wafer surface. In most cases, the most likely sources of pollutants include contact contaminants like gloves, packing materials like wafer boxes, and cleaning agents.

Organic light-emitting diode (OLED)

Modern portable devices such as mobile phones, car radios, music players, etc., use OLED technology. However, the main technical problem in these devices is the limited lifespan of the organic materials making it essential to study the composition of the various organic layers. The better part is that TOF-SIMS spectrometry imaging and depth detection through the gas cluster source simplifies these kinds of studies.

Defect analysis of paint

These days, the importance of coatings in industrial products for decorations and stability continues to increase. However, there is a technological problem triggered by multiple substrates like glass, metals, polymers, etc., because various material species are applied as coatings, and reshaping of many of the products occurs after coating. Consequently, crater formation and adhesion problems arise, necessitating the need for TOF-SIMS analysis to solve such problems.

Tablet cross-section

TOF-SIMS analysis technique is fundamental in identifying the distribution of various ingredients within a tablet, including the drug itself.

Surface treatment

Many paper surfaces are usually treated to get unique surface properties. The treatment results are various lateral distributions of specific organic and inorganic species, which can be detected using TOF-SIMS.


TOF-SIMS is a surface-sensitive technique that obtains comprehensive molecular and elemental analysis with extreme detection limits.