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SIMS

February 8, 2008

The Surface & Nano-Analysis Lab on Nanotechnology Island has a detailed and life-size model of a SIMS instrument. SIMS stands for Secondary Ion Mass Spectroscopy.

To use the SIMS instrument, you put a sample in it, it then throws charged particles (called “primary ions”) at the sample, those knock a bunch of stuff off the surface of the sample (and even from under the surface), some of the stuff knocked off is charged (called “secondary ions”), and then the secondary ions are sucked into a mass spectrometer for analysis. The end result is that you find out what’s on the surface of the sample (and the relative amounts of each thing). By moving the primary ion beam across the surface, you can even find out how surface composition changes from place to place.

You can analyze tea (Earl Grey), a polymer blend, and a metal grid using the SIMS instrument on Nanotechnology Island. You can also click on the various parts of the SIMS instrument – when you do so, a voice tells you what you clicked upon. Over in the Gallery in other wing of the main building, there’s a model that illustrates the principles of SIMS. You can fire a Bi+ ion or a C60 buckyball at a sample and see the mayhem that ensues as particles go flying all over the place.

Click here to visit the main building on Nanotechnology Island now.

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