Surface & Interface Analysis

XPS sputter depth profile of a pristine Li-Mn-O / Au double layer on a stainless steel substrate (a).
ToF-SIMS 3D image of a laser-assisted surface modification of LiCoO2 chemically proving a cone-like structure (b), and ToF-SIMS images of CN- (red) and C3H5O- (blue) fragments evidencing a photo-induced chemical surface structuring via shadow masks (c).

The Surface Analysis Group utilizes X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), Time-of-Flight Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (ToF-SIMS), and Field Emission Scanning Electron Microscopy (FE-SEM) for chemical and morphological characterization of topmost surfaces. In particular, XPS is the most widely used surface analysis technique to provide quantitative chemical state information in a non-destructive manner. Complementary ToF-SIMS in combination with sputter depth profiling achieves chemical and molecular 3D information at high spatial resolution. All spectrometers can be accessed via atmosphere contact free sample transport.

Within the R&D strategy of the IAM-ESS a central activity is to adapt and develop the combined spectroscopic methods to chemically characterize novel materials for energy storage systems, cf. fig. 1a and 1b (collaboration with IAM-AWP), and to study effective degradation mechanisms.

As XPS and ToF-SIMS are technology clusters of the Karlsruhe Nano Micro Facility (KNMF) and central part of the Surface Analysis Platform at SFB 1176 (Molecular Structuring of Soft Matter), the group’s expertise covers all surface related questions in materials research, e.g. the characterization of structured (bio-) polymer-functionalized surfaces, fig 1c (collaboration with Barner-Kowollik team).

The group has a science-based collaboration with the Thermo Fisher Scientific Application Lab, East Grinstead, UK, and since 2009 we are K-Alpha Demo-Lab.




  • Thermo Fisher Scientific K-Alpha XPS instrument with integrated glove-box for atmosphere contact free sample handling,
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific K-Alpha+ XPS instrument equipped with Ar-Clusterion-Source,#
  • VG ESCA5 multi-purpose Spectrometer equipped with Thermo Fisher Scientific Alpha 110 electron energy analyzer,
  • ION-TOF GmbH ToF.SIMS 5 spectrometer equipped with Ar-Clusterion Source,
  • Zeiss GmbH FE-SEM MERLIN microscope,#
  • Bruker AXS DektakXT Stylus Profilometer.


# Supported by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology on the basis of a decision by the German Bundestag.




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