Prof. Dr. Jens Gutzmer (PhD ZA)
Phone: +49 351 260 - 4400

Secretary: Vanessa Tschorn
Phone: 0351 260 - 4404

PD Dr. Simone Raatz
Administrative Manager
Phone: +49 351 260 - 4747

Sekretary: Louise Schulze
Phone: 0351 260 - 4403

Anne-Kristin Jentzsch
Press Officer
Phone: +49 351 260 - 4429

Renate Seidel
Secretary of the Institute
Phone: 0351 260 - 4430


Trace Elements

Detection limits of the PSI/ETH Super-SIMS setup ©Maden, 2003

Detection limits of the ETHZ Super-SIMS setup, data taken from C. Maden, 2003. A modified ATOMIKA CS 431 generates a primary Cs ion beam with good spatial resolution, the secondary ion beam is fed into a 6 MV tandem accelerator. This illustrates very impressively the potential of combining SIMS with a tandem accelerator.

Super-SIMS (SIMS = Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry) is an ultrasensitive analytical method for the determination of stable elements at the ultra-trace level. It combines a dynamical SIMS with an existing AMS-setup (DREAMS) to suppress molecular isobaric background, while keeping its lateral resolution.

AMS determines ratios of a radionuclide to a stable one, Super-SIMS can be used to measure stable isotope ratios. As stable elements are universally present, already shown by Ida Noddak, 1936, this task is challenging at ultratrace levels.

Every matrix and element is its own case. The figure on the right shows the special case of SIMS and Super-SIMS (ETHZ) detection limits in a silicon matrix (C. Maden, PhD thesis, ETH Zurich, 2003).


WEEE-man weighing 3.3 t ©Eden Project

WEEE-man weighing 3.3 t, representing the lifetime impact of WEEE of every person on Earth

Metallurgy of rare strategic metals in WEEE. Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) contains critical metals inhomogeneously distributed in often very low concentrations. In order to enable an energy-efficient recovery of these raw materials, a fundamental understanding of the metallurgical processes, in particular the mass balance, is required. Spatially resolved investigations of the element distribution between slag and metal phases down to very low concentration ranges form an important potential application area of Super-SIMS.

Traceability through fingerprinting of critical raw materials. In recent years many national and international regulations demand certified supply chains. As elemental (or isotopic) patterns can be a unique fingerprint, Super-SIMS could allow the analysis of the raw materials and intermediate products involved. This method could be used to certify sustainable supply chains in special cases. See e.g. the European law Regulation (EU) 2017/821 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 May 2017

Geochemistry Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa ©Altigani et al. 2016

Geochemical relation of Hg/I as well as Br/Cl in gold and pyrite of the Barberton Greenstone Belt, South Africa (from Altigani et al. 2016)

Fluid chemistry - mirror of the genesis of ore deposits. Hydrothermal ore forming fluids cannot be directly sampled. But the analysis of halogens in ore minerals at the ultratrace element level (≤0.01 µg/g) could help to understand the genesis of ore deposits.

Technical Details

Technical Specifications

  • SIMS-source (Cameca IMS 7fauto) connected to a 6 MV tandem accelerator
  • 2 to 3 orders of magnitude lower detection limits (up to 10 ppt or 0.00001 μg/g, highly depending on analyte and matrix as conventional SIMS)

Future Applications

  • Ultratrace elements in minerals for the geochemical exploration of deep-seated ore deposits
  • Provenance analysis and forensics

Sample Requirements

  • Extremely well polished and flat samples with a maximum diameter of 1 inch (25.4 mm)


  • Only solid and vacuum-stable samples
  • Destructive
  • Standard/reference materials needed
Super-SIMS Housing ©Oliver Killig

Super-SIMS Housing ©Oliver Killig

User Information

see here

Projects and Collaborations
  • Michael Wiedenbeck (Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum, Potsdam, Germany), Super-SIMS for specific geological applications
  • Axel D. Renno, Reference materials with HIF
  • Daniel Hiller (TU Dresden), C, N, O in float-zone silicon wafers
  • Pavol Noga (Slovak University of Technology in Bratislava, Faculty of Materials Science and Technology in Trnava, Advanced Technologies Research Institute, Trnava, Slovakia) Simulations of Super-SIMS injection to the accelerator system
  • Dominik Koll and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Dark Matter Particle Physics, "Super-SIMS to characterize ultra-low 40K concentrations in NaI crystals"
Further Reading


  • Matteson S. (2008) Issues and opportunities in accelerator mass spectrometry for stable isotopes. Mass Spectrom Rev. 27(5):470-84. PMID: 18553556.
  • von Wartburg E.J., Messung von Isotopenverhältnissen stabiler Spurenelemente mit Beschleuniger-Sekundärionen-Massenspektrometrie, Dissertation, ETH Zürich (2007).
  • Groopman, Evan E., Grabowski, Kenneth S., Fahey, Albert J., Kööp, Levkeet (2017) Rapid, molecule-free, in situ rare earth element abundances by SIMS-SSAMS, Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry, 32 (2017) 2153-2163.

Own publications (see also here)

  • Rugel, G., Ziegenrücker, R., Lachner, J., Vivo Vilches, C., Renno, A., Wallner, A., Wiedenbeck, M. (2021) Super-SIMS @ DREAMS: status of a challenging initiative The 15th International Conference on Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS-15), 15.-19.11.2021, Sydney, Australia
  • Renno, A.D., Akhmadaliev, S., Belokonov, G., Böttger, R., Borany, J., Kaever, P., Meyer, M., Noga, P., Rugel, G., Tiessen, C.J., Wagner, N., Wiedenbeck, M., Wu, H., Ziegenrücker, R. (2019) Halogen analysis at the ultratrace level – first applications of the Dresden Super-SIMS GOLDSCHMIDT 2019, 18.-23.08.2019, Barcelona, Spanien
  • Rugel, G., Renno, A.D., Akhmadaliev, S., Belokonov, G., Böttger, R., von Borany, J., Gutzmer, J., Kaever, P., Meyer, M., Noga, P., Tiessen, C.J., Voigtländer, J., Wagner, N., Wiedenbeck, M., Winter, A., Wu, H., Ziegenrücker, R. (2018) Super-SIMS at HZDR - first steps. Deutsche Tagung für Forschung mit Synchrotronstrahlung, Neutronen und Ionenstrahlen an Großgeräten (SNI2018), 17.-19.09.2018, München, Deutschland