Initial Publication Date: May 20, 2021

Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer at Arizona State University

Arizona State University

Contact Information

Richard Hervig




Instrument Type

Cameca Instruments (Ametek) ims 6f

Dynamic SIMS instruments use an energetic (5-15 keV) primary beam of ions (O, Ar, Cs are most common). When the primary beam is directed at a sample, the collisions result in the ejection of atoms. Some of the "sputtered" atoms are ionized in the process and this secondary beam is accelerated into a mass spectrometer (magnetic sector or quadrupole) for analysis. The instruments are commercially available largely because of their critical role in quality control/quality assurance in semiconductor fabrication plants, where a tool that can determine changes in chemistry with depth is essential. Small-geometry SIMS as described here are used by geochemists in the fields described below. Some "large geometry" dynamic SIMS instruments are used in government agencies for nuclear forensics (treaty verification and nuclear non-proliferation) and by researchers interested in U-Pb dating and several applications in microanalyses for stable isotopes.

  • SIMS, Secondary ion mass spectroscopy, or Dynamic SIMS


Applications include:
  • Identification of phases
  • Composition (elemental) of phases
  • Elemental mapping, compositional zoning
  • Trace element analysis
  • Surface chemistry (sorption, catalysis)
  • Depth profiling (chemical stratigraphy, nanometer scale)

Typical Use:

This small-geometry SIMS can quantitatively analyze small spots (a few to 40 µm diameter) for elements from hydrogen to uranium, with detection levels ranging from ~ng/g to µg/g, depending on the element. Microanalyses for isotope ratios can be obtained on several elements. Changes in chemistry on the scale of tens of nanometers can be determined in depth profiling mode. Most popular applications are microanalyses for H and other volatile elements (including D/H measurements), examination of intracrystal chemical zoning, and depth profiling thin films (e.g., semiconductors and retrieving diffusion coefficients).

Conditions for Use:

  • Submitted samples will be analyzed on a contract basis (i.e. lab personnel will do the work)
  • Visitors are invited to work in the lab to work with lab personnel
  • Visitors are invited to work in the lab to design and do the work yourself

User Fees:

Contact lab for current rate (

Instrument Priorities:

First priority: support NSF EAR-funded research

Remote Use:

Remote operation is in tandem with a lab representative at the instrument controls sharing screens using a selected software package.

Sample Preparation:

Samples must be ≤1" diameter rounds polished flat. More information on sample requirements can be found at

Standard Collections/Lab Blanks:


Data are provided as Excel worksheets.

Educational Use:

  • Class demonstrations are available for undergraduates
  • Graduate student research projects are invited

Support provided by:

The Arizona State University Community SIMS Facility is supported by a grant from the US National Science Foundation (EAR-1819550).