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Low-Energy Ion Scattering

Ion-Beam Techniques

  1. Hidde H. Brongersma

Published Online: 12 OCT 2012

DOI: 10.1002/0471266965.com144

Characterization of Materials

Characterization of Materials

How to Cite

Brongersma, H. H. 2012. Low-Energy Ion Scattering. Characterization of Materials. 1–23.

Author Information

  1. Eindhoven University of Technology, Dept. of Physics, Eindhoven, The Netherlands

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 12 OCT 2012


Low-energy ion scattering (LEIS), also called ion scattering spectroscopy (ISS), is a tool for the analysis of the atomic composition of the surface as well as for a nondestructive in-depth analysis of the near surface (0–10 nm). The analysis is based on backscattering of noble gas ions (He+, Ne+, Ar+, or Kr+) in the range of a few hundred to 10,000 eV. The extreme surface sensitivity of LEIS enables the selective analysis of the outermost atomic layer. This is precisely the layer that is largely responsible for many chemical and physical properties of materials. In combination with sputter depth profiling LEIS can also be used for the analysis of much deeper layers. Recent advances in the development of LEIS instruments now allow an essentially nondestructive (“static”) analysis, even of very sensitive materials like organic films. With the modern LEIS instruments one can analyze very rough amorphous insulating samples just as easily as conducting flat single crystals. The only restriction for samples being, that they can be put into vacuum for analysis. The applications of LEIS are, therefore, very wide and include important processes like adhesion, catalysis, diffusion, film growth, and electron emission. Alternative techniques include surface science tools, in particular X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), (TOF-) SIMS, the high-energy ion scattering techniques (HEIS), and medium-energy ion scattering, MEIS.


  • low-energy ion scattering;
  • LEIS;
  • ISS;
  • surface;
  • depth profile;
  • atomic composition