Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


EMDPA — Result In Brief

Project ID: 32202
Funded under: FP6-NMP
Country: France

Taking a quick peek beneath the surface

All matter has mass and mass spectrometers are instruments that determine the relative concentrations of atoms and molecules in a sample based on masses. An EU-funded consortium radically changed the way materials scientists can gain such information, which is of vital importance to new materials’ development.
Taking a quick peek beneath the surface
Everything in the universe is made of the 114 officially recognised (to date) elements defined by the Periodic Table. The elements include non-metals such as hydrogen, oxygen and carbon, metals such as aluminium or lead and other groups of elements as well.

These elements, as their name suggests, are thus the elemental building blocks of molecules, which are made up of two or more atoms of the same or different elements. For example, water (H2O) consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom.

Many types of mass spectrometry (MS) and spectroscopy exist but all have inherent pitfalls concerning the analysis of advanced materials. Gas chromatography and liquid chromatography MS (GC/LC MS) are not applicable to solids. Inductively coupled plasma MS (ICP MS) coupled to laser ablation does not measure gaseous elements and molecules. Several other spectroscopy methods for surface analysis are slow and complicated to use.

EU-funded researchers formed the EMDPA project to develop a radical new pulsed radio frequency glow discharge time of flight (RF GD-TOF) mass spectrometer for surface and depth profiling of multilayer materials consisting of conductive and non-conductive thin layers.

the researchers determined that glow discharge optical emission spectroscopy (GD-OES) provides the desired analysis speed but lacks sensitivity and the ability to provide valid molecular information. Thus, the researchers developed a novel GD-MS system combining the speed of GD spectroscopy with the sensitivity and molecular analysis capability of MS, enabling nanometre-depth resolution of advanced materials.

the new RF GD-TOF MS provides full mass spectrum information at any depth and any timeframe and will no doubt become a very powerful tool for the development of advanced materials. Applications include corrosion science, production of solar cells and molecular electronics, to name just a few. Commercialisation of the project outcomes has the potential to expedite and enhance new materials’ development with benefits for research, industry and consumers alike.

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