6 Important Applications of XPS Analysis For Industrial Purposes

Manufacturers frequently have to produce their machines, gadgets, and components with specific requirements. Manufacturers must meet very high precision standards in elemental composition. For example, the properties of glass can be specifically tailored by changing the chemical composition or by the deposition of multilayers.Additionally, the production of electronic devices involves many process steps; including, cleaning, doping, coating, structuring, soldering, etc.A technique in analytical chemistry called X-ray Photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) is crucial in detecting elements near the surface of a solid.

XPS has many applications in materials science, medicine, and electronics. XPS analysis helps analyze and detect contaminants, perform material characterization studies, measure elemental concentrations, and more. Let’s look at typical applications of XPS analysis to see how you might use it in your field of study or work.

1. Provides A Sensitive Measurement of Surface Properties

The sensitivity and accuracy of XPS analysis make it ideal for measuring materials that are difficult to characterize. Many researchers use X-ray Photoelectron spectroscopy to define surfaces as an investigative tool and a technique for determining surface structures. In these cases, X-ray Photoelectron spectroscopy helps to measure properties such as;

  • Surface composition
  • Chemical adsorption and identification of surface contaminants
  • Surface functionalization

A highly sensitive and reliable analytical methods is necessary because differences in surface structure can often be tiny, even at atomic scales.

XPS makes it possible to do a non-destructive analysis of biological samples: Most biological samples cannot withstand high temperatures, making routine analysis nearly impossible. However, since XPS analysis requires low temperatures to work, it’s particularly suitable for application with biological systems—and is effective in looking at almost any material down to 10 nm at room temperature.

2. Thin Film Analysis

A beneficial application of XPS is analyzing thin films. Because such films are often conformal to a substrate, they can be challenging to analyze using mass spectrometry or other bulk analysis techniques. However, because they are thin and composed primarily of one type of element or compound, they are ideal for analysis by XPS. The method can analyze everything from individual semiconductor layers on a substrate to thicker coatings like paint on a surface.

Because it measures elemental composition directly, XPS is ideal for detecting substances that do not decompose during measurement. In addition, different types of elements produce different photoelectron spectra depending on their chemical state; thus, XPS can identify an element even if a film consists mainly of compounds made up of another element.

3. Helps Depth Profiling

With XPS analysis, it’s also possible to determine how many layers of material there are in a sample. Since many samples take on very different properties after receiving a coating in multiple layers, this can provide valuable information about the process of application of the layers. It’s also helpful in looking at products with more than one type of material on their surface; combining with an elemental mapping technique can help elucidate which substances reside where on an object.

For example, multi-layer insulation materials commonly contain two polymers: silica above and aluminum below. Using a combination of XPS and ion bombardment allows a manufacturer to distinguish between polymers and their components down to the atomic level. Additionally, these materials change properties due to exposure to heat or even oxygen. Understanding chemical breakdown helps manufacturers ensure long-term reliability through appropriate storage conditions.

4. Identification and Quantification of Chemical Elements on Surfaces

Scanning electron microscope (SEM) can image non-conductive surfaces and provide elemental compositions via Energy Dispersive X-ray analysis (EDX) of the top 1 µm of the sample surface. Since the element compositions in EDS come from 1 µm deep, SEM/EDX are not well suited for the analysis of thin metal and semiconductor surfaces. In contrast, since XPS is sensitive to the top 5 – 10 nm of the solid surface, XPS is better suited for the analysis of thin metal films and semiconductor surface. With relatively short analysis times and straight-forward data evaluation, XPS analysis is ideal for fast product development cycles in manufacturing.

5. Imaging the spatial distribution within an individual element

State-of-the art XPS instruments can provide elemental maps with a spatial resolution of 3 µm. XPS elemental maps provide valuable, pinpoint information on the spatial distribution of elemental species  within a sample. When analyzing bulk samples, it’s often difficult tounambigiouslyquantifythe concentration of an element in a given location.

Imaging XPS can also be useful when trying to understand if the distribution of an element is uniform throughout a sample or separates into distinct particles. 

6. Screening Large Samples For Trace Elements

It’s essential to know what you put into a product in any manufacturing process. To do so, many companies use X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) to detect trace elements in their products. The benefit of using XPS is that you can get results for several different elements at once on one sample; after running a large batch through your production line, you can rerun them all with just one sample from each cluster.


Several sectors rely on X-ray Photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) to identify the chemical composition of their products. In XPS, the analysts irradiates the sample with X-rays and measures the kinetic energy of the ejected photoelectrons. By detecting those elements and comparing them with an chart, scientists can determine the composition of a substance. The main goal for XPS analysis is determining if a material is pure or mixed with impurities; some industries use it for quality control purposes to ensure consistency in production processes. You can contact Tascon for sensitive, quantitative analysis using the XPS technique.

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