ASTM E1438 - 11

    Standard Guide for Measuring Widths of Interfaces in Sputter Depth Profiling Using SIMS

    Active Standard ASTM E1438 | Developed by Subcommittee: E42.06

    Book of Standards Volume: 03.06


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    Significance and Use

    Although it would be desirable to measure the extent of profile distortion in any unknown sample by using a standard sample and this guide, measurements of interface width (profile distortion) can be unique to every sample composition (1, 2, 3).3 This guide, that describes a method that determines the unique width of a particular interface for the chosen set of operating conditions. It is primarily intended to provide a method for checking on proper or consistent, or both, instrument performance. Periodic analysis of the same sample followed by a measurement of the interface width, in accordance with this guide, will provide these checks.

    The procedure described in this guide is adaptable to any layered sample with an interface between layers in which a nominated element is present in one layer and absent from the other. It has been shown that for SIMS in particular (4, 5) and for surface analysis in general (6, 7), only rigorous calibration methods can determine accurate interface widths. Such procedures are prohibitively time-consuming. Therefore the interface width measurement obtained using the procedure described in this guide may contain significant systematic error (8). Therefore, this measure of interface width may have no relation to similar measures made with other methods. However, this does not diminish its use as a check on proper or consistent instrument performance, or both.

    1. Scope

    1.1 This guide provides the SIMS analyst with a method for determining the width of interfaces from SIMS sputtering data obtained from analyses of layered specimens. This guide does not apply to data obtained from analyses of specimens with thin markers or specimens without interfaces such as ion-implanted specimens.

    1.2 This guide does not describe methods for the optimization of interface width or the optimization of depth resolution.

    This standard does not purport to address all of the safety concerns, if any, associated with its use. It is the responsibility of the user of this standard to establish appropriate safety and health practices and determine the applicability of regulatory limitations prior to use.


    2. Referenced Documents (purchase separately) The documents listed below are referenced within the subject standard but are not provided as part of the standard.

    ASTM Standards

    E673 Terminology Relating to Surface Analysis


    ICS Code

    ICS Number Code 29.045 (Semiconducting materials)

    UNSPSC Code

    UNSPSC Code


    DOI: 10.1520/E1438-11

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