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Probing Diffusion Kinetics with Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry

  • Roger A. De Souza and Manfred Martin


Secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS) is a powerful analytical technique for determining elemental and isotopic distributions in solids. One of its main attractions to researchers in the field of solid-state ionics is its ability to distinguish between isotopes of the same chemical element as a function of position in a solid. With enriched stable isotopes as diffusion sources, this allows self-diffusion kinetics in solids to be studied. In this article, taking oxygen isotope diffusion in oxides as our main example, we present the standard experimental method, and, subsequently, we discuss several promising developments, in particular the opportunities offered by thin-film geometries, and the investigation of inhomogeneous systems, including possible fast diffusion along grain boundaries and making space-charge layers at interfaces “visible.” These examples demonstrate that SIMS is capable of probing mass transport processes over various length scales, ranging from some nanometers to hundreds of micrometers.



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