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Characterization of Thin Films on the Nanometer Scale by Auger Electron Spectroscopy and X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy



Cedric J. Powell, Aleksander Jablonski, W S. Werner, W Smekal


We describe two NIST databases that can be used to characterize thin films from Auger-electron spectroscopy (AES) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) measurements. First, the NIST Electron Effective-Attenuation-Length Database provides values of effective attenuation lengths (EALs) for user-specified materials and measurement conditions. The EALs differ from the corresponding inelastic mean free paths on account of elastic scattering of the signal electrons. The database supplies practical EALs that can be used to determine overlayer-film thicknesses. Practical EALs are plotted as a function of film thickness, and an average value is shown for a user-selected thickness. The average practical EAL can be utilized as the lambda parameter to obtain film thicknesses from simple equations in which the effects of elastic scattering are neglected. A single average practical EAL can generally be employed for a useful range of film thicknesses and for electron emission angles of up to about 60o. For larger emission angles, the practical EAL should be found for the particular conditions.Second, we describe a new NIST database for the Simulation of Electron Spectra for Surface Analysis (SESSA) to be released in 2004. This database provides data for many parameters needed in quantitative AES and XPS (e.g., excitation cross sections, electron-scattering cross sections, lineshapes, fluorescence yields, and backscattering factors). Relevant data for a user-specified experiment are automatically retrieved by a small expert system. In addition, Auger-electron and photoelectron spectra can be simulated for layered samples. The simulated spectra, for layer compositions and thicknesses specified by the user, can be compared with measured spectra. The layer compositions and thicknesses can then be adjusted to find maximum consistency between simulated and measured spectra and thus provide more detailed characterizations of multilayer thin-film materials. SESSA can also provide practical EALs, and we compare values provided by the NIST EAL database and SESSA for hafnium dioxide. Differences of up to 10 % were found for film thicknesses less than 20 due to the use of different physical models in each database
Applied Surface Science


Auger electron spectroscopy, databases, film thicknesses, quantitative analysis, spectrum simulation, x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy


Powell, C. , Jablonski, A. , Werner, W. and Smekal, W. (2005), Characterization of Thin Films on the Nanometer Scale by Auger Electron Spectroscopy and X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy, Applied Surface Science (Accessed June 23, 2024)


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Created April 1, 2005, Updated June 2, 2021