Particle-matter interactions describe the exchange of energy between incoming particle atoms and the atoms of the target. This includes the implantation or backscattering of incident atoms, as well as the mixing, diffusion and sputtering of target atoms. The energy exchange also leads to excited electronic states influencing ionization mechanisms.
Detailed knowledge of particle-matter interactions is necessary to guide the instrumental developments that we are carrying out. For instance, improving spatial resolution requires a detailed knowledge of atomic mixing while analysis sensitivity can only be improved when controlling ionization mechanisms. For compact mass spectrometers, performance depends on the characteristics of the ions entering into the device, such as angular and energy distributions.
For new applications and instrument designs, all or some of the aforementioned parameters related to particle–matter interactions are difficult to predict and require an experimental or numerical investigation, or a combination of both. Some of our studies focus for instance on how primary ion species (reactive or not, monatomic and cluster ions), in combination with different flooding techniques, allow for the optimization of lateral resolution and analysis sensitivity.
The studies related to particle-matter interactions are carried out both by experimental techniques and numerical simulations. For numerical simulations we make use of molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, density functional theory (DFT) calculations and Monte Carlo (MC) simulations.