International Atomic Energy Agency intercomparison of ion beam analysis software

N. P. Barradas, K. Arstila, G. Battistig, M. Bianconi, N. Dytlewski, C. Jeynes, E. Kótai, G. Lulli, M. Mayer, E. Rauhala, E. Szilágyi, M. Thompson

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75 Citations (Scopus)


Ion beam analysis (IBA) includes a group of techniques for the determination of elemental concentration depth profiles of thin film materials. Often the final results rely on simulations, fits and calculations, made by dedicated codes written for specific techniques. Here we evaluate numerical codes dedicated to the analysis of Rutherford backscattering spectrometry, non-Rutherford elastic backscattering spectrometry, elastic recoil detection analysis and non-resonant nuclear reaction analysis data. Several software packages have been presented and made available to the community. New codes regularly appear, and old codes continue to be used and occasionally updated and expanded. However, those codes have to date not been validated, or even compared to each other. Consequently, IBA practitioners use codes whose validity, correctness and accuracy have never been validated beyond the authors' efforts. In this work, we present the results of an IBA software intercomparison exercise, where seven different packages participated. These were DEPTH, GISA, DataFurnace (NDF), RBX, RUMP, SIMNRA (all analytical codes) and MCERD (a Monte Carlo code). In a first step, a series of simulations were defined, testing different capabilities of the codes, for fixed conditions. In a second step, a set of real experimental data were analysed. The main conclusion is that the codes perform well within the limits of their design, and that the largest differences in the results obtained are due to differences in the fundamental databases used (stopping power and scattering cross section). In particular, spectra can be calculated including Rutherford cross sections with screening, energy resolution convolutions including energy straggling, and pileup effects, with agreement between the codes available at the 0.1% level. This same agreement is also available for the non-RBS techniques. This agreement is not limited to calculation of spectra from particular structures with predetermined parameters, but also extends to extracting information from real data. In particular, we have shown data from an Sb implanted sample where the Sb fluence was certified with an uncertainty of 0.6%. For this sample, and using SRIM03 stopping powers for 1.5 MeV 4He in Si, the codes were able to extract the Sb fluence with an average 0.18% deviation from the certified value and a 0.11% agreement between the codes. Thus IBA is a suitable technique for accurate analysis where traceability is critical. These results confirm that available IBA software packages are, within their design limitations, consistent and reliable. The protocol established may be readily applied to validate future IBA software as well.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-303
Number of pages23
JournalNuclear Instruments and Methods in Physics Research, Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2007



  • Computer software
  • Data analysis
  • Ion beam analysis
  • Silicon
  • Simulation
  • Stopping power

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nuclear and High Energy Physics
  • Instrumentation

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