Non-destructive depth profiling of solid samples by atomic and nuclear interactions induced by charged particles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The study of complex materials (non-homogeneous matrices containing medium and/or heavy atoms as major elements) by Particle Induced X-Ray Emission (PIXE) requires the tailoring of the experimental set up to take into account the high X-ray intensity produced by these main elements present at the surface, as well as the expected low intensity from other elements "buried" in the substrate. The determination of traces is therefore limited and the minimum detection limit is generally higher by at least two orders of magnitude in comparison with those achievable for low Z matrices (Z20). Additionally, those high Z matrices, having a high absorption capability, are not always homogeneous. The non-homogeneity may be, on the one hand, a layered structure (which is uneasy to profile by Rutherford Backscattering Spectroscopy (RBS) if the material contains elements of neighbouring atomic masses or if the layered structure extends on several microns). PIXE measurements at various incident energies (and with various projectiles (p, d, He3, He4)) are an alternative method to overcome those difficulties. The use of special filters to selectively decrease the intensity of the most intense X-ray lines, the accurate calculation of the characteristic X-ray intensity ratios (K/K, L/L) of individual elements, the computation of the secondary X-ray fluorescence induced in thick targets are amongst the most important parameters to be investigated in order to solve these analytical problems. Examples of Al, Si, Cu, Ag, Au based alloys as encountered in industrial and archaeological metallurgy are discussed. The non-destructive aspect of the ion beam techniques is proved by applying the method in vivo for the study of fluorine migration in tooth enamel. Preliminary results on the composition of the blocks of the pyramid of Cheops are presented in the scope of a complete revision of the procedure of its construction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-271
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Electron Spectroscopy and Related Phenomena
Volume129
Publication statusPublished - 2003

Keywords

  • NRA
  • depth distribution
  • RBS
  • alloys
  • archaeological material
  • PIXE

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