Glow discharge mass spectrometry (GD-MS) is recognised as one of the ultimate techniques for the characterisation of conductive and non-conductive materials. It is capable of quantifying virtually all elements from lithium to uranium, and from matrix to sub part-per-billion.
The Astrum ES is utilised in a variety of applications areas including high purity metals, semiconductor materials, substrates and aerospace materials. The Astrum ES is capable of analysing conductive, semi-conductive and non-conductive materials using both flat and pin cell geometries, depending on whether surface analysis, depth profiling or bulk-type analysis is preferred.
The Astrum ES from Nu Instruments combines a glow discharge ion source with a high-resolution mass spectrometer and is a major step forward in GD-MS, from the cryo-cooled tantalum source/cell and rapid sample changeover system through to the bespoke control software. The durable construction of the instrument and proven source design give maximum uptime with minimal intervention.
• Glow discharge source based on proven technology
• Reduced flow static discharge for maximum stability
• Tantalum cell construction for ease of cleaning
• Pin and flat sample configurations for maximum analytical flexibility
• Easy sample changeover using a unique loading probe
• Cryo-cooled source for analysis of low melting point samples and minimisation of background gases
• Double-focusing mass spectrometer, based on field proven technology
• Variable high-resolution capabilities from 400 to > 10000 (10% valley definition)
• Faraday and ion counting multiplier for wide dynamic range
• Determination of matrix to sub-ppb elements in a single scan
• Purpose built electronics with monitoring of all instrument parameters
• Unique pumping configuration
• Bespoke software with intuitive instrument control and data analysis
The primary application of the Astrum ES GD-MS is the characterisation of high purity material whether it be nickel superalloys for the aerospace industry, copper and silicon for the semiconductor industry, or gallium for the ever-developing LED business.
There is a burgeoning interest in the use of HR GD-MS for semiconductor materials such as silicon and sapphire. This is driven not just by the semiconductor industry but also by the demand for solar cell silicon, wherein the purity of the silicon has a direct correlation with the solar cell performance.
Production of virtually all electronic, optical and electro-optical devices requires high-purity semiconductors. The electrical properties of these semiconductors are dependent on the impurities present in them and only extreme low levels of impurities are permitted in these metals to guarantee the performance of the end product such as microprocessors and other micro devices. GD-MS also helps in bulk survey analysis of these semiconductors to identify the amount of impurities even at the trace and ultra-trace levels.
Pure Metal Industry
In large scale production of metals and alloys the total trace impurity is not well controlled. However, in order to control its mechanical, chemical and electrical properties, controlled doping with trace elements and purification to reduce the presence of unwanted materials is required. GD-MS helps in identifying the impurities in the finished product, thereby ensuring the quality and performance of the system where these metals are used.
Alloys and Super Alloys are the key materials for the manufacturing of high-performance machinery such as turbines. As these types of machinery often work under very high temperature and pressure, even a slight change in composition of the trace elements can have undesirable results. GD-MS is ideal in identifying these elemental compositions in the product to ensure the best performance of the system.
Contract laboratories use GD-MS analysis for materials characterisation and the Astrum ES design has been greatly influenced by their requirements. In some cases, these can be the most demanding users, with regular changes in sample matrix and sample quality. The Astrum is the benchmark for achieving the best data quality with the lowest detection limits and running costs.