Determination of the number and size of inhomogeneities in thin films by ion beam analysis

J. P. Stoquert, T. Szörényi

Research output: Article

38 Citations (Scopus)


Ion beam analysis techniques are routinely used to determine elemental concentration profiles in thin layers of thicknesses between tens of nanometers and micrometers. The analysis of the energy spreading of the analyzing ion beam, as described in this paper, represents a different approach to the determination of the dimension and number density of nanometer-size inhomogeneities in the films and opens interesting possibilities in the noninvasive characterization of film microstructure by ion beam techniques. The sensitivity of the method depends on the energy resolution of the detecting system: in usual configurations the presence of inclusions of dimensions down to a few nanometers can be detected. Procedures for calculation of the size and number density of spherical inclusions are presented. The case of columnar inhomogeneities is also described in detail and a parameter characterizing the degree of organization of the spatial distribution of inclusions is introduced. Examples of application in Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy, elastic recoil detection analysis, and nuclear reaction analysis reveal that the method described allows fast and accurate measurement without destruction of the samples in all cases. Comparison of feature dimensions derived from the analysis of the energy spreading with results of direct measurements, wherever possible, demonstrates the strength of the method.

Original languageEnglish
Article number144108
Pages (from-to)1441081-1441088
Number of pages8
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - okt. 1 2002


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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