High-sensitivity high-resolution mapping of low Z elements by parallel ion electron spectrometry


CALL: 2013

DOMAIN: MS - New Functional and Intelligent Materials and Surfaces






KEYWORDS: Parallel Ion Electron Spectrometry, Transmission Electron Microscopy, Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry, correlative microscopy, multi-modal imaging, high-sensitivity nano-analysis, high-resolution imaging, low Z elements, hydrogen, deuterium, lithium, boron, steel, solar cells, batteries, semi-conductors

START: 2014-07-01

END: 2016-12-31

WEBSITE: https://www.list.lu/

Submitted Abstract

Due to the ever increasing complexity of devices and the continuously shrinking geometries in materials research, characterization tools and techniques are facing new challenges and need to anticipate future trends. Concretely, all roadmaps in the field of characterization indicate that there is a pressing need for an analytical tool allowing a mapping of samples with both excellent resolution and high-sensitivity chemical information. The absence of such a tool would considerably hamper – today but even more so in the future – important progress and breakthrough developments in materials science and life sciences. In order to get chemical information with the highest sensitivity and highest lateral resolution, we have investigated the feasibility of combining Transmission Electron Microscopy with Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry and have developed a dedicated prototype instrument consisting of an FEI Tecnai F20 equipped with a Ga+ FIB column and dedicated SIMS extraction optics, mass spectrometer and detectors. This unique combination of high-resolution microscopy and high-sensitivity chemical mapping on a single instrument leads to a new level of correlative microscopy, a trend which is met with huge enthusiasm by the scientific community, making possible applications which were previously out of reach. The LowZ-PIES project aims at developing innovative methodologies and the required fundamental knowledge to characterize nanoscale features containing low Z elements both at a structural level with sub-nm resolution and with highly sensitive chemical information. Such low Z elements cannot be detected with a sufficient detection limit by traditional means like EDX or EELS routinely installed on Transmission Electron Microscopes.The LowZ-PIES project will concentrate on selected cutting-edge applications (case studies), namely H and D in steel and solar cells, Li in batteries and B in semi-conductors. In each of these case studies, we will use the PIES technique to correlate the distribution and concentration of the LowZ element (detected, imaged and quantified by SIMS) to the microstructural details (imaged by TEM). Importantly, the unrivalled sensitivity of the SIMS technique will allow the detection and quantification of trace elements. The results obtained will be used to interpret and understand important properties of the investigated materials, such as the effect of hydrogen on modern high-strength steels, the correlation between the presence of hydrogen and the saturation of recombination centres in high efficiency solar cells, the thermodynamics and kinetics of lithium incorporation in electrode nanostructures in batteries for higher storage capacities and the impurity diffusion and activation mechanisms in semi-conductors with ever shrinking dimensions.Due to this very strong combination between applications of utmost importance and interest in the field of materials science and a unique analytical tool, the interest and impact of the LowZ-PIES project on the scientific community and its contribution to advancement of knowledge should be undeniable.

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