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Surface Analysis - Innovations and Solutions for Industry

Thursday 11th October - Theatre 1, Ericsson Exhibition Hall

This meeting is arranged with the intention of improving the knowledge of surface analysis techniques and the awareness and benefits for industry. Surface analysis is of particular importance for examining adhesion, composition, corrosion, coatings, contaminants, semiconductors, structures and tomography - MORE>


09:00 Registration opens in the atrium
10:15 Welcome and opening remarks
  Session 1
10:20 Bridging the pressure and complexity gap with near-ambient pressure XPS and electrospray deposition
Professor James O’Shea, Associate Professor & Reader in Physics,University of Nottingham, UK


X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) is one of the most powerful techniques for studying the chemical and electronic structure of surfaces. In order to avoid scattering of photoelectrons and to maintain atomically clean surfaces XPS typically operates under ultra-high vacuum conditions (UHV). This has led to the pressure gap – between the pristine UHV environment of the technique and the ambient pressures of typical operating conditions. The UHV environment has led to a complexity gap, in which typically only atoms or small molecules are thermally evaporated onto surfaces for the study of model interfaces.

Until recently, surface science at elevated pressures, and of large, complex fragile adsorbates were inaccessible. The pressure gap has been bridged to a large extent by near-ambient pressure XPS (NAP-XPS), allowing surfaces to be studied in-situ under pressures up to 30 mbar. This has facilitated studies of fuel cells, batteries, atomic layer deposition and catalysis under much more realistic conditions. The development of in-situ vacuum electrospray deposition has further bridged the complexity gap to complex, fragile, non-volatile molecules on surfaces. This has enabled studies of dye-sensitised solar cells and photoelectrochemical water splitting in addition to organic solar cells, macromolecules, polymers and nanoparticles.


Near-Ambient Pressure XPS: From surfaces to interfaces
Dr Alex Walton, Research Fellow, University of Manchester, UK


X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) is one of the most powerful and versatile probes of surface composition and chemistry and is in routine usage in many sectors such as battery technology, corrosion protection, surface coatings and heterogeneous catalysis.

However, XPS is performed in high vacuum conditions, restricting it to a post-mortem technique. In many applications, for example catalysis, understanding the state of the surface during operation is critical. Recent developments in instrumentation have allowed XPS measurements to be taken on a sample in a Near-Ambient Pressure environment (NAP-XPS). For the first time this allows XPS to follow surface chemistry in-situ under realistic conditions and take operando measurements from devices, materials and catalysts.

In this talk I will present an overview of research undertaken using the University of Manchester’s NAP-XPS, focussing on the operando study of catalysts (solid/gas interface) and work towards operando electrochemical measurements (solid/liquid interface).

11:10 Surface phase analysis using XPS
Dr Robert Palgrave, Reader, University College London, UK

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy is a technique commonly used to quantify surface elemental composition and measure the surface chemical environments present. Both of these applications make use of photoemission from the core atomic orbitals. The valence electrons are the outermost electrons in an atom, and interact strongly with those of neighbouring atoms, forming chemical bonds. Valence band photoemission spectra thus contain information on the bonding and spatial arrangement of atoms. It is well known that different polymorphs, such as diamond and graphite, or anatase and rutile titania, can be qualitatively distinguished by measuring the valence band spectra. In this talk I will describe how valence band XPS and UPS can be used to quantitatively measure the crystallographic phase fraction of a range of inorganic and organic materials. The phase fractions determined by XPS are shown to be surface phase fractions, and in the TiO2 system, correlate strongly with surface photocatalytic activity. 


Robert Palgrave is Reader in Inorganic and Materials Chemistry. He completed his PhD at UCL in 2007, before postdoctoral work at the University of Oxford and the University of Liverpool. He is now the manager of the UCL Chemistry XPS facility.

11:30 Break
11:50 Nexsa XPS/Raman multi-technique instrument
Paul Mack, Fisher Scientific


12:10 A Journey Through the Sciences: A multidisciplinary approach to XPS in surface analysis
Dr Marc Walker, Science City Photoemission Facility Manager, University of Warwick, UK

In this presentation I will give several examples of how x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), a technique for analysing surface composition and compound identification, can be useful in industrially-relevant projects in conjuction with other scientific techniques. Several examples will be given, including oil refinery, photovoltaics for solar cells, nanoparticle applications and semiconductors for electronic devices. Our journey will cover biology, chemistry, physics and engineering, while also introducing both the XPS Facility and Research Technology Platforms which are available for industrial usage at The University of Warwick. 

12:30 Break and POSTER SESSION in the exhibition hall.
A poster prize will be awarded at 13:30 for the best poster.
  Session 2
14:00 3D OrbiSIMS and applications of SIMS for 2D Materials
Dr Barry Brennan, Research Scientist, National Physical Laboratory, UK

In this talk the use of ToF-SIMS to probe the chemical structure of 2D-materials will be explored. We will show how it can be used to identify and remove the contamination on different materials, optimisation of chemical vapour deposition growth of graphene and boron nitride, the dispersion of graphene powders within polymer composites, and help to develop metrics for the metrology of the physical properties of 2D materials which aid in the development of standards for graphene.
The 3D OrbiSIMS instrument will also be presented, and how its unprecedented capabilities in terms of high mass resolving power and imaging resolution can be applied to probe the chemical composition of various materials in application areas ranging from 2D materials to pharmaceuticals and in cancer research.

ToF-SIMS image of chemical vapour deposition grown graphene on copper showing large single crystals of graphene, as well as collocated contamination species.


Barry Brennan received a PhD from the Surface and Interfaces Research Lab at Dublin City University in 2010, and subsequently carried out a three-year postdoc at the University of Texas at Dallas. His principal area of research was the chemical and interfacial characterisation of high-k dielectric materials on InGaAs, and various other semiconductor materials, using photoemission based techniques. He has authored or contributed to more than 50 peer-reviewed publications in this area. The research led to similar studies relating to high-k oxide growth on graphene and other 2D materials. Barry joined the Surface & Nanoanalysis Group at NPL in 2014, and is principally working on SIMS of graphene and 2D materials to develop methods for removal of surface contamination without generating defects, as well as 3D SIMS depth profiling of organic layers using argon clusters.

14:30 XPS using hard x-rays for materials research
Dr Tien-Lin Lee, Principal Beamline Scientist, Diamond Light Source, UK

Photoelectron spectroscopy (PES) is a powerful tool for investigating chemical properties and electronic structures of materials. Owing to the rapid reduction of photoionisation cross sections with increasing excitation energy, conventional PES experiments have been mostly conducted at photon energies below 1.5 keV with the majority of the detected photoelectrons being emitted from within a depth of approximately 1 nm, leading to superb surface sensitivity of this technique but also severe limitation of its applications. The recent development of high-brilliance radiation sources and high-throughput electron analysers has enabled high-energy (2 to 10 keV) PES studies to probe beyond 10 nm into materials with no or minimal surface preparation of the samples. Hard x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (HAXPES) is nowadays performed routinely at third generation synchrotrons like Diamond Light Source with a high photon flux and an overall energy resolution of ~200 meV at 6 keV. The extended information depth of HAXPES allows the access of true bulk properties of complex materials (e.g., Li ion batteries) and electronic structures at buried interfaces (e.g., functionalised oxide heterostructures), and opens up the possibilities of in operando PES studies of samples in device geometries or under reaction conditions. 

14:50 Energy, Images and Clusters: Advances in XPS for Industrial Applications
Dr David Morgan, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Cardiff University, UK

Surface analysis is paramount in elucidating an understanding of a materials surface and composition and hence its properties and performance.  X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) is one of the most common of the analysis techniques employed, however in many commercial areas XPS is commonly seen solely as a method of obtaining chemical state information, or even as a form of ‘quality control’.   Such vision means advancements in both the application of XPS based techniques and in data processing is all too often overlooked.

Herein, we highlight some advances in XPS and focus on areas which are not routinely used or are historically thought of as too timing consuming for industrial applications; specifically, XPS imaging and high energy XPS.  Together with information obtained from ancillary techniques, which are now commonplace on XPS instrumentation, we show how these advancements can generate a more informed picture of a materials surface.

15:10 Concluding comments -
15:15 Close of meeting

The exhibition remains open until 16:00

What to do next

■ Send this information to your colleagues and associates who may be interested
■ Start preparing a poster to present in the poster session

■ Register to attend






Dr Mark Baker (Chair)
Reader in Surface Science & Engineering, University of Surrey

Dr David Scurr
Senior Research Fellow in Surface Analysis, Faculty of Science , University of Nottingham.

Dr Alex Shard
Principal Research Scientist, Surface and NanoAnalysis, National Physical Laboratory.

Ian Owen
Scanwel Ltd