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Radio frequency glow discharge optical emission spectroscopy (RF GD-OES)

Radio frequency glow discharge optical emission spectroscopy (RF GD-OES) allows depth profiling of materials ranging from thin films (with a depth of a few nanometers) to bulks (with a depth of tens of micrometers) at high depth resolution and in a high speed. RF GD-OES can evaluate various materials, including metals, insulation films (e.g., glass) and organic films.


Atoms are sputtered from the sample surface in an argon (Ar) glow discharge. The sputtered atoms recombine with electrons in the plasma discharge. The light emitted from this recombination is analyzed using an optical emission spectrometer in order to obtain a depth profile of chemical composition.









Principle of Operation


Principle of Operation


Measurable Elements

45 elements (H - U), including one by monochromator, are measurable simultaneously.


Detection limit:
RF GD-OES provides a detection limit slightly inferior to secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS). However, it delivers a sensitivity of a few tens of ppm for certain elements such as boron.

Depth resolution:

High: Approx. 1nm

Analysis time:

RF GD-OES takes shorter time than depth profile analysis using an X-ray photoelectron spectrometer (XPS) or an Auger electron spectroscope (AES).


Comparisons between RF GD-OES and Other Surface Analysis Methods

Detection limit1) 20 ppm
(1E18 atoms/cm3)
Up to 1 ppm
(5E16 atoms/cm3)
1000 ppm
(5E19 atoms/cm3)
Area analyzed φ1 mm
φ7 mm
Tens of ƒÊm square or larger φ10ƒÊm or larger (XPS)
φTens of nm or larger (AES)
Depth resolution Approx. 1 nm A few nm or greater A few nm or greater
Depth profile analysis time2) Up to 1 min. 20 to 30min. 3 hrs. or longer

1) The detection limit varies with elements.

2) Approximate time for measurement of a thin-film with a thickness of a few hundred nanometers


@@SIMS: Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometer

@@XPS: X-ray Photoelectron Spectrometer

@@AES: Auger Electron Spectroscope



■ Analysis of a multilayer film

Analysis of a multilayer film

The intensity of the Fe spectrum drops in CoFe (1 nm), MgO (1 nm) and
CoFe (1.5 nm).

Depth resolution: Approx. 1 nm



  • Depth profile analysis
    •Evaluation of multilayer film diffusion and interfaces (GMR, MRAM, etc.)
    •Implanted ion distribution profiling
    •Analysis of the composition of battery electrodes (rechargeable batteries, secondary batteries, etc.), glasses, semiconductors, metals, etc.
  • Specimen surface treatment while monitoring elements

[Last updated: October 17, 2018]

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