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Auger spectroscopy and surface analysis

Thurgate, S.M. (1997) Auger spectroscopy and surface analysis. Australian Journal of Physics, 50 (4). pp. 745-757.

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In 1925 Pierre Auger reported on his observations of low energy electrons associated with core-ionised atoms in cloud chamber experiments. He was able to correctly identify the mechanism for their production, and such electrons are now known as Auger electrons. Typically Auger electrons have energies in the range 10 eV to 2 keV. The short distance that such low energy electrons travel in solids ensures that Auger electrons come from the surface layers. The data generated by the AES technique are complex.

There are at least three electrons involved in the process, and there are many possible configurations for the atom. These possibilities led to spectra that are not readily interpreted in detail. Theory lags behind experiment in this area. In principle, it should be possible to find information about the chemical environment of atoms from Auger spectra. While there are clear changes in spectral lineshapes, there is no simple way to go from the spectra to an understanding of the chemical bonding of the atom. There are a number of experiments currently underway which aim to improve our understanding of the Auger process. Synchrotron experiments with tunable energy x-rays are providing new insight. Experiments that use positrons to excite Auger emission have also produced further recent understanding. Coincidence experiments between photoelectrons and Auger electrons have also made recent advances. Auger photoelectron coincidence spectroscopy reduces the complexity of Auger spectra by only counting those electrons that occur as a consequence of selected ionisations. The effect is to reduce the complexity of the spectra, and to isolate processes that are often clouded by the simultaneous occurrence of other effects.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences
Publisher: CSIRO Publishing
Copyright: © CSIRO 1997
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