M.C. López-Santos, F. Yubero, J.P. Espinós, A.R. González-Elipe
Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, 396 (2010) 2757-2768
The measured peak shape and intensity of the photoemitted signal in X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) experiments (elastic and inelastic parts included) are strongly correlated, through electron-transport theory, with the depth distribution of photoelectron emitters within the analyzed surface. This is the basis of so-called XPS peak-shape analysis (also known as the Tougaard method) for non-destructive determination of compositional in-depth (up to 6-8 nm) profiles. This review describes the theoretical basis and reliability of this procedure for quantifying amounts and distributions of material within a surface. The possibilities of this kind of analysis are illustrated with several case examples related to the study of the initial steps of thin-film growth and the modifications induced in polymer surfaces after plasma treatments.