The ability of five Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) instruments to resolve thin layer and modulated dopant structures by depth profiling has been assessed. Three magnetic sector instruments (two Cameca IMS 3f's and one 4f), which use optical gating and a high extraction field, were used, together with two different quadrupole based instruments (EVA 2000 and Atomika) , which use electronic gating and a low extraction field. The test structure, a thirty-one peak boron-in-silicon modulating dopant structure, was grown by Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE).
In all the depth profiles the near surface peaks appeared narrow and asymmetric, being broadened only by fundamental processes (e.g., atomic mixing and recoil implantation). As the profiles proceeded, however, further broadening was observed. This phenomena varied markedly both from one instrument to another and from one experiment to another on the same instrument. In some cases the loss of depth resolution with depth was manifested by broadening mainly in the leading edge, in others the trailing edge, of successive boron peaks. The 'order of merit' of the instruments thus depended on the parameter used to define depth resolution.
The loss of peak (depth) resolution with depth was due to variations in primary ion beam density across the gated area of the crater, which led to uneven etching. The changes in peak shape with depth can be explained by a numerical model of the etching process. These observations dictate that the depth resolution of a SIMS instrument should not be measured in terms of a single interface width, such as the leading or trailing edge.
McPhail, D. S.; Clark, E. A.; Clegg, J. B.; Dowsett, M. G.; Gold, J. P.; Spiller, G. D. T.; and Sykes, D.
"The Depth Resolution of Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometers: A Critical Evaluation,"
Scanning Microscopy: Vol. 2
, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.usu.edu/microscopy/vol2/iss2/3