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The intensity of the peak depends on the amount of material present, while the peak position is element dependent. Auger transitions characteristic of each elements can be found in the literature. Auger transitions of the first forty detectable elements are listed in [link] .

Selected AES transitions and their corresponding kinetic energy. Adapted from H. J. Mathieu in Surface Analysis: The Principal Techniques , Second Edition, Ed. J. C. Vickerman, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim (2011).
Atomic number Element AES transition Kinetic energy of transition (eV)
3 Li KLL 43
4 Be KLL 104
5 B KLL 179
6 C KLL 272
7 N KLL 379
8 O KLL 508
9 F KLL 647
11 Na KLL 990
12 Mg KLL 1186
13 Al LMM 68
14 Si LMM 92
15 P LMM 120
16 S LMM 152
17 Cl LMM 181
19 K KLL 252
20 Ca LMM 291
21 Sc LMM 340
22 Ti LMM 418
23 V LMM 473
24 Cr LMM 529
25 Mn LMM 589
26 Fe LMM 703
27 Co LMM 775
28 Ni LMM 848
29 Cu LMM 920
30 Zn LMM 994
31 Ga LMM 1070
32 Ge LMM 1147
33 As LMM 1228
34 Se LMM 1315
35 Br LMM 1376
39 Y MNN 127
40 Zr MNN 147
41 Nb MNN 167
42 Mo MNN 186


Important elements of an Auger spectrometer include a vacuum system, an electron source, and a detector. AES must be performed at pressures less than 10 -3 pascal (Pa) to keep residual gases from adsorbing to the sample surface. This can be achieved using an ultra-high-vacuum system with pressures from 10 -8 to 10 -9 Pa. Typical electron sources include tungsten filaments with an electron beam diameter of 3 - 5 μm, LaB 6 electron sources with a beam diameter of less than 40 nm, and Schottky barrier filaments with a 20 nm beam diameter and high beam current density. Two common detectors are the cylindrical mirror analyzer and the concentric hemispherical analyzer discussed below. Notably, concentric hemispherical analyzers typically have better energy resolution.

Cylindrical mirror analyzer (cma)

A CMA is composed of an electron gun, two cylinders, and an electron detector ( [link] ). The operation of a CMA involves an electron gun being directed at the sample. An ejected electron then enters the space between the inner and outer cylinders (IC and OC). The inner cylinder is at ground potential, while the outer cylinder’s potential is proportional to the kinetic energy of the electron. Due to its negative potential, the outer cylinder deflects the electron towards the electron detector. Only electrons within the solid angle cone are detected. The resulting signal is proportional to the number of electrons detected as a function of kinetic energy.

Schematic of a cylindrical mirror analyzer.

Concentric hemispherical analyzer (cha)

A CHA contains three parts ( [link] ):

  1. A retarding and focusing input lens assembly.
  2. An inner and outer hemisphere (IH and OH).
  3. An electron detector.
Schematic of a concentric hemispherical analyzer.

Electrons ejected from the surface enter the input lens, which focuses the electrons and retards their energy for better resolution. Electrons then enter the hemispheres through an entrance slit. A potential difference is applied on the hemispheres so that only electrons with a small range of energy differences reach the exit. Finally, an electron detector analyzes the electrons.


AES has widespread use owing to its ability to analyze small spot sizes with diameters from 5 μm down to 10 nm depending on the electron gun. For instance, AES is commonly employed to study film growth and surface-chemical composition, as well as grain boundaries in metals and ceramics. It is also used for quality control surface analyses in integrated circuit production lines due to short acquisition times. Moreover, AES is used for areas that require high spatial resolution, which XPS cannot achieve. AES can also be used in conjunction with transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to obtain a comprehensive understanding of microscale materials, both chemically and structurally. As an example of combining techniques to investigate microscale materials, [link] shows the characterization of a single wire from a Sn-Nb multi-wire alloy. [link] a is a SEM image of the singular wire and [link] b is a schematic depicting the distribution of Nb and Sn within the wire. Point analysis was performed along the length of the wire to determine the percent concentrations of Nb and Sn.

Analysis of a Sn-Nb wire. (a) SEM image of the wire, (b) schematic of the elemental distribution, and (c) graphical representation of point analysis giving the percent concentration of Nb and Sn. Adapted from H. J. Mathieu in Surface Analysis: The Principal Techniques , Second Edition, Ed. J. C. Vickerman, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim (2011).

AES is widely used for depth profiling. Depth profiling allows the elemental distributions of layered samples 0.2 – 1 μm thick to be characterized beyond the escape depth limit of an electron. Varying the incident and collection angles, and the primary beam energy controls the analysis depth. In general, the depth resolution decreases with the square root of the sample thickness. Notably, in AES, it is possible to simultaneously sputter and collect Auger data for depth profiling. The sputtering time indicates the depth and the intensity indicates elemental concentrations. Since, the sputtering process does not affect the ejection of the Auger electron, helium or argon ions can be used to sputter the surface and create the trench, while collecting Auger data at the same time. The depth profile does not have the problem of diffusion of hydrocarbons into the trenches. Thus, AES is better for depth profiles of reactive metals (e.g., gold or any metal or semiconductor). Yet, care should be taken because sputtering can mix up different elements, changing the sample composition.


While AES is a very valuable surface analysis technique, there are limitations. Because AES is a three-electron process, elements with less than three electrons cannot be analyzed. Therefore, hydrogen and helium cannot be detected. Nonetheless, detection is better for lighter elements with fewer transitions. The numerous transition peaks in heavier elements can cause peak overlap, as can the increased peak width of higher energy transitions. Detection limits of AES include 0.1 – 1% of a monolayer, 10 -16 – 10 -15 g of material, and 10 12 – 10 13 atoms/cm 2 .

Another limitation is sample destruction. Although focusing of the electron beam can improve resolution; the high-energy electrons can destroy the sample. To limit destruction, beam current densities of greater than 1 mA/cm 2 should be used. Furthermore, charging of the electron beam on insulating samples can deteriorate the sample and result in high-energy peak shifts or the appearance of large peaks.


  • H. Bubert, J. Rivière, and W. Werner, Surface and Thin Film Analysis: A Compendium of Principles, Instrumentation, and Applications , Second Edition, Ed. G. Friedbacher and H. Bubert, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim (2011).
  • H. Lüth in Solid Surfaces, Interfaces and Thin Films , Fifth Edition, Springer, New York (2010).
  • H. J. Mathieu in Surface Analysis: The Principal Techniques , Second Edition, Ed. J. C. Vickerman, Wiley-VCH, Weinheim (2011).
  • S. N. Raman, D. F. Paul, J. S. Hammond, and K. D. Bomben, Microscopy Today , 2011, 19 , 12.
  • N. Turner in Analytical Instrumentation Handbook, Second Edition, Ed. G. Ewing, Marcel Dekker, Inc, New York (1997).
  • J. F. Watts in Handbook of Adhesion Technology , Ed. Lucas F.M. da Silva, A. Öchsner, and R. Adams, Springer, New York (2011).
  • V. Young and G. Hoflund in Handbook of Surface and Interface Analysis Methods for Problem-Solving , Second Edition, Ed. J. Rivière and S. Myhra, CRC Press, Boca Raton (2009).

Questions & Answers

what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
How we are making nano material?
what is a peer
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
What is STMs full form?
scanning tunneling microscope
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
sciencedirect big data base
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
How can I make nanorobot?
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
how can I make nanorobot?
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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advantages of NAA
Sai Reply
how I can reaction of mercury?
Sham Reply

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