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Microsc Microanal. 2011 Feb;17(1):1-14. doi: 10.1017/S1431927610094468. Epub 2011 Jan 19.

Kinetic-energy discrimination for atom probe tomography.

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Cameca Instruments, Inc., formerly Imago Scientific Instruments Corporation, 5500 Nobel Drive, Madison, WI 53726, USA.


The benefits of using kinetic-energy information to aid ion discrimination in atom probe tomography (APT) are explored. Ion peak interferences in time-of-flight (TOF) mass spectra are categorized by difficulty of discrimination using TOF and kinetic-energy information. Several of these categories, which are intractable interferences when only TOF information is available, may be discriminated when kinetic-energy information also is available. Furthermore, many opportunities for removing noise from composition determinations and three-dimensional images are enabled. Modest kinetic-energy resolving powers (KRPs) of 10 or so should be sufficient to have a major impact on APT. With KRP of about 100, the energy deficits in voltage pulsing may be resolved to enable peak discrimination in straight-flight-path instruments. Real examples and simulated mass spectra are used to illustrate the benefits of kinetic-energy discrimination. Many of the conclusions are applicable generally in TOF spectroscopy. Current detectors do not provide the kinetic energy of incoming ions, but there are realistic prospects for building such detectors and these are discussed. A program to develop these detectors should be pursued.


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