Standard Article

Depth Profiling

Nuclear Methods

  1. Guillaume Martin1,
  2. Philippe Garcia1,
  3. Thierry Sauvage2

Published Online: 15 SEP 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9780470027318.a9063

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry

How to Cite

Martin, G., Garcia, P. and Sauvage, T. 2009. Depth Profiling. Encyclopedia of Analytical Chemistry. .

Author Information

  1. 1

    CEA de Cadarache, Saint Paul Lez Durance, France

  2. 2

    CNRS—CEMHTI, Orléans, France

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 SEP 2009


Elemental depth profiles up to few micrometers below the surface of samples can be determined using nuclear methods. Two types of depth profiling techniques are mainly distinguished on the basis of the shape of the cross section of the reaction between incident particles and target atoms. First, for nonresonant reactions with a cross section that extends over a wide range of energies, the energy of detected ions may vary as a function of the depth at which they are emitted. The analysis of the target at a given incident energy therefore enables its elemental depth profiling by converting the energy of detected ions into their emission depth. Second, resonant reactions that show a sharp and strong resonance at a given energy usually provide the best depth resolutions. As incident ions penetrate the analyzed material, their energy decreases and most of detected particles originate from depths at which the incident ions have reached the resonance energy. In this case, several analyses are needed to probe the target at all relevant depths. The procedure to perform depth profiling analyses requires firstly the determination of the experimental conditions that optimize the depth resolution and secondly extracting from the experimental spectra depth profiles with accurate error bars.


  • depth;
  • resolution;
  • profiling;
  • nuclear;
  • ions;
  • IBA;
  • RBS;
  • ERDA;
  • NDP;
  • NRA;
  • PIGE;
  • resonance