Theoretical study toward rationalizing inelastic background analysis of buried layers in XPS and HAXPES

Charlotte Zborowski, Sven Mosbæk Tougaard

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The approach of inelastic background analysis was previously demonstrated to be a useful tool for retrieving the depth distribution of buried layers with an accuracy, which is better than 5% even for some complex samples. This paper presents a study that attempt at rationalizing the approach by exploring how to make the best choice of the inelastic mean free path and the inelastic scattering cross section, which are the two main input parameters needed in the analysis. To this end, spectra from buried layers were created with Quases-Generate software. The layers consisted of Si 1s recorded at 6099 eV and Au 4d recorded at 1150 eV kinetic energy buried under overlayers of Si, Au, Al, polymer, or Ta. Spectra from samples with a wide range of buried layer thickness and overlayer thickness were created. Subsequently, these spectra were analyzed with Quases-Analyze software and for each case the analysis was done with different combinations of the input parameters. Among these, the best choice for all cases was to use an effective IMFP and effective inelastic scattering cross section with relative weights being half the thickness of the buried layer and the full thickness of the overlayer. This general formula together with a new version of the software makes the inelastic background analysis of buried layers faster and easier to apply even for nonspecialists.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSurface and Interface Analysis
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)857-873
Publication statusPublished - 1. Aug 2019


  • QUASES-Tougaard
  • XPS
  • buried layers
  • inelastic background analysis
  • inelastic mean free path
  • inelastic scattering cross section


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