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Auger Electron Spectroscopy



Cedric J. Powell


A convenient measure of surface sensitivity in Auger-electron spectroscopy (AES) and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) is the mean escape depth (MED). If the effects of elastic-electron scattering are neglected, the MED is equal to the electron inelastic mean free path (IMFP) multiplied by the cosine of the emission angle with respect to the surface normal, and depends on the material and electron energy of interest. An overview is given here of recent calculations of IMFPs for 50-2000 eV electrons in a range of materials. This work has led to the development of a predictive formula based on the Bethe equation for inelastic electron scattering in matter from which IMFPs can be determined. Estimate show, however, that elastic-electron scattering can significantly modify the MED. Thus, for AES, the MED will be reduced by up to about 35 %. For XPS, however the MED can be changed by up to + 30 % for common measurement conditions although it can be much larger (by up to a factor of 2) for near-grazing emission angles. Ratios of MED values, calculated with elastic scattering considered and neglected for XPS from the 3s, 3p, and 3d subshells of silver with Mg K[alpha] x rays are approximately constant (to about 10 %) over a range of emission angles that varies from 40 degrees to 60 degrees depending on the subshell and the angle of x-ray incidence. Recommendations are given on how to determine the optimum range of emission angles for satisfactory analysis of angle-resolved XPS data. Definitions are included of three terms often used for describing surface sensitivity (IMFP, MED, and effective attenuation length), and examples are given of the varying magnitudes of these quantities for different analytical conditions.
Astm Standardization News


auger-electron spectroscopy, elastic-electron scattering, inelastic mean free path, mean escape depth, surface sensitivity, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy


Powell, C. (1978), Auger Electron Spectroscopy, Astm Standardization News (Accessed May 24, 2024)


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Created February 1, 1978, Updated June 2, 2021