Our Thermo Fisher ESCALAB 250 Imaging XPS instrument has a monochromatic Al X-ray source, which allows energy resolution of 0.45 eV FWHM. This makes the identification of chemical states and the chemical nature of the surface much more precise.

The spatial resolution is 15 microns in spectroscopy mode and 10 microns in chemical imaging mode. It also has an Al/Mg dual anode X-ray source which allows analysis areas of up to 8mm diameter. The base pressure in the instrument is < 5 x 10 -10 mbar ensuring that instrumental contamination is never a problem.

Elemental and chemical state depth profiling (up to a depth of 1 micron) can be achieved by ion etching using a differentially pumped Ar ion source of 100eV to 5keV with a rotational sample stage. Non-destructive depth profiling (up to a depth of 10nm) can be achieved by means of angle resolved XPS. Ion scattering spectroscopy can also be carried out on this instrument using He, Ne or Ar ions.


Our AES instrument has a 1 to 25kV field emission electron gun. The gun can be operated in scanning or stationary spot mode. Elemental and chemical imaging and spectroscopy can be achieved at spatial resolutions down to 10 nm. Base pressures are the same as in the XPS instrument and depth profiling can, similarly, be done by Ar ion etching.

XPS is more useful when identifying the chemical or bonding state of elements in a surface, whilst AES is more useful in analysing very small features.


SIMS is generally considered to be a non-quantitative technique, although quantitation is possible with the use of standards. SIMS is the most sensitive surface analysis technique, with elemental detection limits ranging from parts per million to parts per billion.


Mechanical and topographical characterization of surfaces can be conducted at MSA. For example, nano-hardness, nano-scratch, impact and elastic modulus measurements of surfaces use an MML Nano-test platform; topographical information using Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM).

Environmental Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM and elemental analysis using Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDX) is also available.


Over the years of operation, MSA Ltd have established a wide range of strategic partnerships. Hence, if any one of our techniques is not wholly suitable, we will act as a “one stop shop” and recommend and manage alternative techniques for your analysis. If you have a problem please come and talk to us, when we will recommend the quickest and most time and cost effective solution.

For further information, please contact or telephone +44 (0)121 204 3530 or alternatively please complete our analysis request form and a consultant will be in contact.