University of Wollongong Upgrade XPS Capabilities with New NEXSA Installation

The surface science capabilities at the Australian institute for Innovative Materials (AIIM) at the University of Wollongong (UoW) have recently been upgraded with the installation of a highly versatile Thermo Scientific NEXSA XPS (X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy) system. The flexible design of the new system allows for broader usage by researchers with additional analytical techniques.

The Thermo Scientific NEXSA XPS installed at AIIM/UoW.

The NEXSA makes XPS a far more accessible technique by providing arguably the most user-friendly system available opening it up to a wider user base. What makes the system really stand out is its ability to easily integrate other complimentary analytical techniques facilitating a more in-depth characterisation of materials and surfaces. Compared to their old system, the NEXSA provides higher quality, more reliable data and will require far less maintenance.

Accurate surface characterisation is extremely important in the development of advanced materials as this is the place where they interact with their surroundings. Furthermore, with the ever-increasing use of thin-films, coatings and other surface modifications to enhance the performance of materials, understanding the behaviour at the surface has never been more important.

The NEXSA installed at UoW has been upgraded with the addition of MAGCIS™ and UPS. The MAGCIS dual beam ion source provides depth profiling capabilities so researchers can go beyond the outermost surface to generate a 3D compositional analysis. UPS or Ultraviolet Photoelectron Spectroscopy provides additional information about the valence electronic structure of the surface and allows measurement of the work function or ionisation potential.

Speaking about the choice of their replacement XPS system, Assoc. Prof. Germanas Peleckis, Associate Dean Research at UoW commented, “probably the most basic, and main demand, for the new XPS system was for it to provide reliable data and have a relatively friendly user interface, so both researchers and postgraduate students would have the opportunity to use the instrumentation independently. The configuration of the system reflects the various needs that our researchers have and the old system could not offer.” He went on to add, “we accounted for a wide range of materials being developed at AIIM: inorganics, organics, polymers, alloys, and/or ceramics” and “UPS is critical for investigation of materials related to solar power generation and conversion as well as water splitting. We have a large number of users who work in this field”.

Richard Trett, Managing Director of AXT, Australian distributor for Thermo Scientific (microanalysis and surface analysis products) was extremely pleased with how installation and commissioning took place given travel restrictions during the COVID pandemic and the teams ability to rapidly adapt to the changing environment. He said, “continuous and open communication between the UoW, AXT and Thermo Scientific enabled the installation to proceed according to plan. AXT engineers installed the hardware and Thermo Scientific were able to remotely commission it from the UK.”

Assoc. Prof. Peleckis was grateful for funding from the UoW Equipment Replacement Fund, which makes funding available for replacement of aging critical instrumentation. With the new instrument, he believes that the user base could reach 100 independent users and the system could help to increase research output from AIIM, which currently accounts for ~40% of all of UoWs citations.

The Thermo Scientific NEXSA and other XPS instruments form part of AXT’s Materials Science portfolio.