SNMS Sputtered Neutral Mass Spectrometry - Magnetic Layers - Sponsored Whitepaper

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Hiden Analytical
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Of the many methods of data storage magnetic hard discs still provide the most cost effective means for high density rapid access. The continued move towards ever smaller read/write heads and more closely spaced data tracks has lead to a dramatic development of magnetic materials and structures for this demanding application.

Analysis of the metallic layer structures used in magnetic data storage is vital for both development and quality management with Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS) and Sputtered Neutral Mass Spectrometry (SNMS) providing information on minor and major element composition repectively.

Both SIMS and SNMS use a focused, mono-energetic, chemically pure ion beam of typically 1-10 keV to sputter erode the surface under analysis. A small fraction of the sputtered material becomes ionized due to the sputtering process itself and, in SIMS, it is these ions that provide the sensitive information for which the technique is known. Being a mass spectrometry technique all elements and isotopes may be detected, and in favorable conditions the detection limit can be in the low ppb region.

However, because the ionization mechanism for SIMS occurs at the sample surface, it is highly dependent upon the local chemistry and the ionized fraction can vary by many orders of magnitude. This makes SIMS ideal for trace analysis in materials of known matrix but quantification in materials of changing matrix can be complex.
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