Minnesota Chapter of ASM International

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Technical Meeting: “Using Auger, EDS, and FIB to Detect, Identify, and Image Buried Metallic Particles”

Ashley Ellsworth, Staff Scientist, Physical Electronics


Auger Electron Spectroscopy (AES) is a powerful analytical tool that provides quantitative elemental information from surfaces of solid materials. The average depth of analysis for an AES measurement is approximately 5 nm with lateral spatial resolution as small as 8 nm.  The information AES provides about surface layers or thin film structures is important for many industrial and research applications where surface or thin film composition plays a critical role in performance including: nanomaterials, photovoltaics, catalysis, corrosion, adhesion, semiconductor devices and packaging, magnetic media, display technology, and thin film coatings used for numerous applications.

In this presentation, we demonstrate the use of AES in conjunction with a focused ion beam (FIB) to produce site specific imaging of microscale features beneath a sample surface. The combination of the two techniques allows for high spatial resolution analysis of buried particles and defects. This information can be very useful in helping to determine important parameters such as the origin of defects, corrosion mechanisms, coating problems, etc. We will highlight the advantages of FIB milling compared to traditional depth profiling. Energy dispersive x-ray spectroscopy (EDS) is also a powerful complementary technique to Auger analysis as it provides information from much deeper in the sample surface (few µm). With the combination of AES, FIB, and EDS, we show that buried metal particles can be first located and characterized with EDS, followed by the subsequent FIB milling and high spatial resolution Auger spectroscopy and imaging of the particles.

Biographical Information:

Ashley Ellsworth is a Staff Scientist specializing in Auger Electron Spectroscopy analysis at Physical Electronics in Chanhassen, MN. As a staff scientist, she provides technical expertise to PHI in support of new product and application development while demonstrating PHI system performance capabilities. She performs a wide variety of complex AES analyses to meet urgent customer needs. She also participates in application projects and supports internal R&D and software development. Her AES expertise supports a broad range of surface science applications, including thin films, coatings, material failure, defects, contamination, biomaterials, and materials engineering.

Ashley received B.S. degrees in chemistry and biology from the University of Texas at Tyler in 2012. She received her Ph.D. in chemistry in 2017 from the University of Texas at Dallas under the guidance of Prof. Amy Walker. Her doctoral research aimed to develop a novel electroless deposition technique to synthesize metallic nanostructures with precise placement and control on micropatterned organic substrates. She utilized a variety of surface analytical techniques throughout her doctoral research to characterize the deposited nanostructures, including TOF-SIMS, XPS, AFM, and SEM.

Location Crane Engineering, part of ESI
2355 Polaris Lane North, Suite 120
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