Dual purpose laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry for pulsed laser deposition and diagnostics of thin film fabrication: preliminary study

Talanta. 2009 Aug 15;79(3):583-9. doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2009.04.031. Epub 2009 May 3.


PLD (pulsed laser deposition) is an attractive technique to fabricate thin films with a stoichiometry reflecting that of the target material. Conventional PLD instruments are more or less black boxes in which PLD is performed virtually "blind", i.e. without having great control on the important PLD parameters. In this preliminary study, for the first time, a 213 nm Nd-YAG commercial laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer (LA-ICPMS) intended for microanalysis work was used for PLD under atmospheric pressure and in and ex situ ICPMS analysis for diagnostics of the thin film fabrication process. A PLD demonstration experiment in a He atmosphere was performed with a Sm(13.8)Fe(82.2)Ta(4.0) target-Ta-coated silicon wafer substrate (contraption with defined geometry in the laser ablation chamber) to transfer the permanent magnetic properties of the target to the film. Although this paper is not dealing with the magnetic properties of the film, elemental analysis was applied as a means of depicting the PLD process. It was shown that in situ ICPMS monitoring of the ablation plume as a function of the laser fluence, beam diameter and repetition rate may be used to ensure the absence of large particles (normally having a stoichiometry somewhat different from the target). Furthermore, ex situ microanalysis of the deposited particles on the substrate, using the LA-ICPMS as an elemental mapping tool, allowed for the investigation of PLD parameters critical in the fabrication of a thin film with appropriate density, homogeneity and stoichiometry.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't