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J Am Soc Mass Spectrom. 2005 May;16(5):733-42.

An investigation of enhanced secondary ion emission under Au(n)+ (n = 1-7) bombardment.

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  • 1Department of Chemistry and Center for Materials Innovation, Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri 63130, USA.


We investigate the mechanism of the nonlinear secondary ion yield enhancement using Au(n)+ (n = 1, 2, 3, 5, 7) primary ions bombarding thin films of Irganox 1010, DL-phenylalanine and polystyrene on Si, Al, and Ag substrates. The largest differences in secondary ion yields are found using Au+, Au2+, and Au3+ primary ion beams. A smaller increase in secondary ion yield is observed using Au5+ and Au7+ primary ions. The yield enhancement is found to be larger on Si than on Al, while the ion yield is smaller using an Au+ beam on Si than on Al. Using Au(n)+ ion structures obtained from Density Functional Theory, we demonstrate that the secondary yield enhancement is not simply due to an increase in energy per area deposited into the surface (energy deposition density). Instead, based on simple mechanical arguments and molecular dynamics results from Medvedeva et al, we suggest a mechanism for nonlinear secondary ion yield enhancement wherein the action of multiple concerted Au impacts leads to efficient energy transfer to substrate atoms in the near surface region and an increase in the number of secondary ions ejected from the surface. Such concerted impacts involve one, two, or three Au atoms, which explains well the large nonlinear yield enhancements observed going from Au+ to Au2+ to Au3+ primary ions. This model is also able to explain the observed substrate effect. For an Au+ ion passing through the more open Si surface, it contacts fewer substrate atoms than in the more dense Al surface. Less energy is deposited in the Si surface region by the Au+ primary ion and the secondary ion yield will be lower for adsorbates on Si than on Al. In the case of Au(n)+ the greater density of Al leads to earlier break-up of the primary ion and a consequent reduction in energy transfer to the near-surface region when compared with Si. This results in higher secondary ion yields and yield enhancements on silicon than aluminum substrates.

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