New Surface Imaging Capability at ETCbrunel

Published: Tuesday 17 May 2011
New surface imaging capability
New surface imaging capability

The new Kore SurfaceSeer ToF-SIMS instrument is a state of the art spectrometer that allows for the simultaneous analysis of elements and molecular fragments of the top 1-2 nanometres of a surface. ToF-SIMS is nowadays the most sensitive of all the commonly-employed surface analytical techniques, and provides a unique combination of high sensitivity for atoms (from Hydrogen to Uranium), clusters of atoms and molecular fragments. Additionally, the instrument´s imaging capacity allows the possibility to obtain spatially-resolved elemental analysis of any type of material that can stay under vacuum.

This ability to study both the composition and structure of a surface is crucial in many research areas such as Biotechnology, Tribology, Adhesives, Geochemistry, Failure analysis, Coatings, Polymers and Materials Engineering. Also, the high sensitivity of the technique makes it an excellent tool for the study of surface contaminations, defects and particles on the micron scale.

The new ToF-SIMS facility will be mainly operated by Dr Jesús Javier Ojeda. Dr Jesús Javier Ojeda has been recently appointed as a Lecturer in Surface Analysis at ETCbrunel, and is the newest member of the Centre. Jesús is a surface chemist and completed his PhD at the Kroto Research Institute, University of Sheffield, applying potentiometric and spectroscopic techniques for the characterisation of bacterial cells and their interactions with solid surfaces. Before coming to Brunel, he was responsible for the University of Sheffield´s Surface Analysis Centre (XPS and ToF-SIMS).

It is worth mentioning that the literature concerning the utilisation of ToF-SIMS is very rich and keeps growing every year. ToF-SIMS is a relatively new technique and its uses are still expanding to areas such as biomaterials, medicine, biofilms and environmental sciences. The acquisition of a ToF-SIMS by ETCbrunel will also expand the research areas of the Centre and increase the exposure of Brunel University, and the ETC in particular, as a highly regarded consultancy and research institute for engineering, forensic, biomaterials and environmental investigations.

Apart of the new ToF-SIMS instrument, the ETC has a large range of characterisation techniques that complement the study of almost any sample and provide a comprehensive analysis of both the bulk and surface of the materials of interest. X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), Auger Electron Spectroscopy (AES), Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and micro-Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (micro-FTIR) all provide surface information with various degrees of specificity and sensitivity. For example, AFM is able to describe surface roughness up to nanometre levels; XPS provides quantitative chemical information of the elements on a surface, whereas micro-FTIR provides information of organic compounds of the bulk of the sample up to several microns depth.

In addition, Scanning Electron Microscopy and/or Transmission Electron Microscopy offer excellent visualisation tools with high level magnification and resolution, as well as the bulk composition of the scanned material using energy dispersive or wavelength dispersive x-ray analysis. Also, crystallography, material structure and phase detection can be assessed using x-ray diffraction (XRD), back-scattered electron detection (BSE) and electron back-scattered diffraction (EBSD).

If you would like to learn more about the Centre and the characterisation techniques available, please do not hesitate to contact any member of the ETC staff, or visit:

If you wish to receive further information about the new ToF-SIMS instrument, or to discuss possible analysis, contact Dr Jesús Javier Ojeda

Page last updated: Tuesday 17 May 2011