Why you shouldn’t overlook C60 beams just yet

C60 cluster ion beams are a fantastic tool for analyzing both hard and soft materials. Composed of sixty carbon atoms arranged into a football shape, C60 ions combine several different features making it a great all-rounder ion beam. This is why we always recommend customers to consider including a C60 beam when specifying their J105.

As the C60 molecule is larger (approx. 7 Å) than the lattice constant for most materials, it does not experience channeling the way smaller ions such as bismuth do. As such C60 beams exhibit incredibly uniform sputter rates across a wide range of materials, and even on challenging poly-crystalline materials where there is a range of crystal orientations.

As a cluster ion, C60 also produces very shallow craters with very little, if any, subsurface damage, so etch cycles are not needed to remove damaged layers when performing depth profiles or 3D imaging. As the J105 samples 100% of the analysis volume, high sensitivity is guaranteed, and combined with spot sizes as low as 300 nm, C60 is a powerful beam for delivering maximum resolution in 2D and 3D.

NiCr Standard Depth Profile C60
C60 depth profile through the NIST NiCr standard showing <5 nm depth resolution. As there is no need to perform etch cycles to remove damaged layers, depth resolution on the J105 is limited only by the crater depth of the ion beam.

The figure below shows a 3D image of a semiconductor stack alongside a depth profile through the same, performed with a 40kV C60 beam in positive ion mode. The sample consists of layers of InSb, Al, and GaAs respectively, covered in a protective photoresist layer.

3D SIMS image of InSbAlGaAs Stack with depth profil
The J105 has one mode of operation, so amazing 3D images, high-resolution 2D images, as well as detailed depth profiles can all be obtained from a single data set.

The resulting 3D SIMS image shows the layers in amazing clarity, with very sharp interfaces. As the J105 always samples 100% of the analysis volume, high sensitivity is guaranteed. The detailed depth profile through the sample also shows the presence of dissolved Al within the InSb layer, as well as the presence of Sb in the pure Al layer.

The 40kV C60 beam is ideal for this type of sample or application due to the combination of soft organic, inorganic, and hard metallic layers within the same sample. Combined with spot sizes as low as 300 nm, C60 is a powerful beam for delivering maximum resolution in 2D and 3D, no matter what type of sample you have.

GCIB 10S Webinar in association with UCVAC

On Thursday, in collaboration with UCVAC, we held a webinar on the GCIB 10S Gas Cluster Ion Beam for potential customers in China. The webinar was a great success, and we will certainly look to use this format again to connect with potential customers around the world, particularly while travel restrictions remain in place.

IONOPTIKA recently authorized UCVAC as its sole agent in mainland China and Hong Kong. With extensive experience in the surface science markets, UCVAC are well placed to assist business development and provide technical support in the region. We look forward to working together, and this webinar was a fantastic way to kick things off.

The GCIB 10S is a high-performance gas cluster ion beam that delivers rapid, low-damage sputtering for superior quality surface analysis. An ideal upgrade for a variety of instruments, such as XPS, SEM, SPM, and SIMS, the GCIB 10S brings many powerful advantages in an economical, low-maintenance package.

Ultra-low-energy sputtering by argon cluster ions helps to efficiently remove material while producing very low damage and minimal loss of chemical information, leaving a pristine surface for analysis. Removing just a few nanometres per cycle, the GCIB 10S is the ideal tool for achieving ultra-high-resolution depth profile analysis.

If you missed it live, you can watch the full webinar below.

Employee Spotlight: Dr Michal Ryszka

As a small company, Ionoptika is very proud of its skilled and dedicated staff, who together with our loyal users make up our global community. So each month we will be putting the spotlight on one of our talented colleagues to introduce you to some of the people behind Ionoptika.

This month, continuing the theme of new hires, we introduce Dr. Michal Ryszka, who joined Ionoptika in 2019. Michal gained his experience during postdocs in both France and the USA before joining Ionoptika as Development Engineer with special responsibility for Ionoptika’s J105 SIMS instrument.

We asked Michal for some insight into the pivotal points in his career:

Michal quotation

Why did you decide to study science when you were at school or university?

I was always interested in how things work, both in terms of science and technology, so when I was in high school and it came down to choosing what I want to study at University it was really an easy choice. I went for applied physics at Gdansk University of Technology. I got interested in atomic and molecular physics, so after getting a degree in science and engineering I went for a PhD at the Open University in the UK in Chemical Physics.

What do you enjoy most about working at Ionoptika?

One of the most exciting parts of my job is being involved in the development of a cutting-edge technology.  Knowing how many applications benefit from our products is really motivating!

Can you describe a typical day working at Ionoptika (normally, not during the lockdown!)

I spend most of my time running ion simulations and analysing results for a future development project. I am also involved in development projects run by other colleagues. I can be also found with my hands on the J’s currently being built, tweaking and tuning.

What has been your best memory or achievement in your career?

My best memory is of the day when I finally recorded first hydrated DNA base cluster ions in an experimental setup I had been developing for my PhD project.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Whenever the weather allows it, I like mounting biking. I also like reading books and playing video games.

Have you been doing anything interesting/different/new to cope with the lockdown?

I am trying to stay fit by riding on my turbo trainer. I have also been doing lots of research for a project I am looking forward to after the lockdown is over.

What are you looking forward to most once the lockdown is over?

I’m planning to buy a van and turn it into a campervan, then take it for mountain biking trips around the UK and the continent.

You can catch up with Michal and the rest of the Ionoptika team at various conferences throughout the year. Interested in becoming part of our team? Visit our Careers page.