Introducing the Gas Cluster Ion Beam Ion Gun

In October, at the 57th AVS Exhibition in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Physical Electronics introduced an Argon Gas Cluster Ion Beam (GCIB) source as our newest tool for surface analysis.

Argon Gas Cluster Ion Beam

The GCIB source provides Ar 2,500 + cluster ions which can be used to depth profile polymeric materials on both XPS and TOF-SIMS instruments.  It joins the 10 kV and the 20 kV PHI C 60 ion guns as powerful tools for depth profiling of organic materials.

Today over 60 PHI C 60 sources are in use on XPS and TOF-SIMS instruments around the world and are being successfully used for a wide range of polymer applications. PHI Scientists gave five different technical presentations at the AVS conference and exhibition and showed that for polymers that undergo cross-linking, the GCIB source retains chemical state information to much greater depths than the C 60  for some organic depth profiles.

C60 Sputter Time Graph

An XPS depth profile of polyimide using the C 60

By contrast, the GCIB source extends the chemical state information gathered while depth profiling organic photovoltaics and the so-called "Type II" polymers, all with exceptional results. 

XPS depth profile of polymide using the GCIB graph

An XPS depth profile of polyimide using the GCIB

Additionally, in the presentations at AVS, we showed that difficult materials such as polystyrenes and polycarbonates can be successfully profiled, some to depths greater than 8 micrometers.

The first GCIB source is presently being installed on a VersaProbe XPS system and additional installations are scheduled. The choice between a C 60 ion gun or an argon cluster ion beam ion gun for any new PHI XPS or TOF-SIMS system is expected to be application specific so please talk to us to see how these profiling tools may fit your requirements. Send us an email at

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© 2024 Physical Electronics, Inc. (PHI) All Rights Reserved.