A highly charged ion based time-of-flight emission microscope has been designed, which improves the surface sensitivity of static SIMS measurements because of the higher ionization probability of highly charged ions. Slow, highly charged ions are produced in an electron beam ion trap and are directed to the sample surface. The sputtered secondary ions and electrons pass through a specially designed objective lens to a microchannel plate detector. This new instrument permits high surface sensitivity (10.sup.10 atoms/cm.sup.2), high spatial resolution (100 nm), and chemical structural information due to the high molecular ion yields. The high secondary ion yield permits coincidence counting, which can be used to enhance determination of chemical and topological structure and to correlate specific molecular species.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.