Malin Edvardsson May 7, ’19 > 4 min

Three benefits of using a combined QCM-D and ellipsometry setup

Working in a surface science lab, you surround yourself with an arsenal of analysis equipment and characterization tools; instrumentation that provides you with the information that you need to progress in your work. So why not combine some of the instruments into one and the same setup? The benefits of this could be three-fold. Here we tell you why.

Two technologies that are straightforward to combine are QSense® QCM-D technology and ellipsometry. Such a combination will offer 1) improved data quality, 2) data that neither of the two techniques is able to extract when used on its own and 3) increased time efficiency. Combined QCM-D and ellipsometry analysis

 Figure 1: Schematic illustration of a combined QCM-D and ellipsometry setup

1) Improved data quality

Since the measurement conditions will be identical when the experiments are run simultaneously in the same setup, uncertainties regarding sample variations and measurement conditions will be eliminated. Therefore, it will be possible to directly compare the two collected data sets, confidently knowing that the systems analyzed by the respective method are identical.

Conditions that will be identical in a combined QCM-D and ellipsometry measurement:

  • Sample preparations, ageing and handling
  • Sensor surface and sensor treatment
  • Measurement conditions (environment, temperature, etc)

2) Get synergy data

The information collected from QCM-D and ellipsometry is complementary and enables extraction of information that neither of the two techniques can extract when used on its own. Thanks to the simultaneous measurements of hydrated, mQCM-D, and non-hydrated, mellipsometry, mass, variations in the amount of coupled solvent, msolvent, in the system under study can be analyzed and quantified.

New information gained:

msolvent = mQCM-D – mellipsometry

3) Increase the time efficiency

Finally, you may be able to save some time running the combination setup rather than executing the measurements individually. Not only may you save time performing the actual experiment, but you may also save time on the both before and after the measurement planning, preparing and analyzing the results. If you want to study the same system with two different technologies, you need to eliminate uncertainties regarding system variations. Perhaps you must move samples back and forth between the different setups, or you must go through lengths to make sure the sample surfaces are identical, or at least very similar. A combined QCM-D and ellipsometry setup could save you time in all these areas.

Time savers:

  • Fewer experiments in total will be needed. Save time on:
    • Measurement planning, preparation and post-treatment
    • Measurement performance
  • Spend less time on data analysis
    • No conversion of time axis needed
    • No need for alignment of the sample sequence in the data

Concluding remarks

Combining two complementary methods into one and the same setup, such as QCM-D and ellipsometry, you may not only gain new information neither of the two methods is able to extract when used on its own,  but you will also improve the data quality of the information collected. Also, as a side-effect, you may even save some time.

Download the application note to read more about combined QCM-D and ellipsometry.

Application note  Combined QCM-D and Ellipsometry for thin film characterization  Download

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