Dr. René Heller

Head Ion Beam Analysis
Phone: +49 351 260 3617

Ion Beam Analysis

Applied ion beam analysis makes use of ion beams for materials, structural and radionuclide analysis. Experimental and theoretical studies of interactions of ions with solids including energy-loss, straggling, and charge-state distributions are part of our research. We further develop and improve technology for high-resolution ion beam analysis in terms of energy resolution as well as in terms of lateral resolution.

We closely collaborate with other divisions within our institute and contribute to the work of many external groups at universities, other research centres, industrial research institutes and companies. Most of our applied research topics are interdisciplinary.

Analysis is free of charge but requires submission of a proposal. More information about how to apply for analysis

Current research topics

  • Ion beam analysis with highest lateral resolution / Ion beam analysis within a Helium ion microscope
  • In-situ ion beam analysis and ion beam analysis under enviromental conditions
  • Combining different techniques of ion beam analysis in unique experiments


RBS ©Copyright: Dr. Heller, René

Rutherford-Backscattering-Spectrometry - RBS

  • High detection sensitivity for heavy elements in a light matrix or on a light substrate
  • Quantitative und standard-free method with a relative accuracy of 1%
  • Employing channeling for damage measurements in single crystals

Typical parameters

  • Analysable elements: O to U
  • Detection limits:
    (depending on element/matrix combination)
    • < 0.1 atomic-% up to several atomic-% in volume
    • 1012 atoms/cm2 up to 1015 atoms/cm2 as thin films
  • Analysis depth: ~ 1 micrometre
  • Depth resolution: 5-10 nm using standard silicon detectors
  • Medium Energy Ion Scattering (MEIS) as special application with a depth resolution of about 1 nm

Read more

ERD ©Copyright: Dr. Heller, René

Elastic recoil detection - ERD

  • Good detection sensitivity for light elements in any type of matrix or on any type of substrate, altough best sensitivity for a light matrix/substrate
  • Heavy elements in a light matrix by detection of the scattered primary ions
  • Quantitative und standard-free method with a relative accuracy of 5%

Typical parameters

  • Analysable elements: H - Ar (recoil atom), K-U(scattered primary ions)

  • Detection limits: 0.1 atomic-% up to >1 atomic-% (in the presence of heavy elements)

  • Analysis depth (max.): 0.5 - 0.75 μm
  • Depth resolution: ~ 20 nm

Read more

NRA ©Copyright: Dr. Heller, René

Nuclear reaction analysis - NRA

  • Selective detection of light elements
  • Isotope sensitive
  • Particularly suitable for quantitative hydrogen analysis
  • Trace element depth distributions

Typical parameters

  • Analysable elements: H to F
  • Lateral resolution:1 - 100 mm2
  • Detection limits:
    • < 0.05 atomic-% (H)
    • 0.1 atomic-% (D to F)
  • Analysing depth: up to 5 µm (matrix-dependent)
  • Depth resolution (for H):
    • ~ 8 nm (in Si)
    • 1 nm (grazing incidence)

Read more

PIXE-PIGE ©Copyright: Dr. Heller, René

Particle induced X-Ray and Gamma- Emission - PIXE/PIGE

  • High sensitivity
  • Simultaneous multi-element analysis
  • Non-destructive
  • In vacuum or in air

Typical parameters

  • Analysable elements: Li to Al (PIGE), Si to U (PIXE)
  • Detection limits:
    > 0.001 atomic-%
  • Analysis depth (max.): 0.5 - 5 µm

Read more for PIXE/PIGE at our micro beam line

Read more for PIXE/PIGE at our external ion beam line (in air)

2D Element-Verteilungen gemessen mit µ-PIXE an Garnet ©Copyright: Dr. Munnik, Frans

2D elemental distributions measured by µ-PIXE of garnet from Heftetjern, southern Norway (3 MeV proton beam, beam spot 8 µm, map size 1.4x1.7 mm², colour scale in µg/g). This mineral has an unusual high Sc enrichment. G. Steffenssen, et. al. Ore Geology Reviews 126 (2020) 103729

Ion microbeam analysis

  • Lateral element distributions or depth profiles in lateral resolution of some µm's using PIXE, RBS, ERD and/or NRA
  • Quantitative und standard-free method with an accuracy of 5-10%

Typical parameters

  • Analysable elements: almost all, depending on applied technique (see above)
  • Lateral resolution:
    > 3 x 3 µm2
  • Scanning area: max. 2x2 mm2
  • Detection limits:
    • 0.2 atom-% (H & Li & B-F & Na-Al)
    • > 0.001 atom-% (for Si to U)
  • Analysis depth (max.): 1-5 µm (matrix and method dependent )
  • Depth resolution: ~ 20 nm (RBS and NRA)

Read more

Foto: Nebra sky disk ©Copyright: Dr. Christian Neelmeijer

The "Sky Disk of Nebra" positioned for gold analysis at the external ion beam

External ion beam for Archaeometry and Art

  • Non-destructive analysis under atmpspheric pressure with a ion beam that exits the vacuum through a foil
  • Points on big and fragile objects can be directly measured, no sampling
  • Simultaneous analysis of many elements using PIXE, PIGE and RBS
  • Quantitative und standard-free method with an accuracy of 5-10%

Typical parameters

  • Analysable elements: Li, B - U (depending on the applied technique)
  • Ion beam: H+, 4 MeV
  • Exit foil: 2 µm Havar foil (cobalt alloy)
  • He flow between exit foil and object possible
  • Lateral resolution: sub-mm
  • Analysable area: max.~ meter
  • Detection limits:
    • 0.2 atom-% ( Li - Mg, excluding Be and Ne)
    • > 0.001 atom-% (for Al to U)

Read more

Group information

Group members - Ion Beam Analysis

Current and former IBA group members

Publications - Ion Beam Analysis

Current publications that have emerged from user experiments and collaborations with our group.