Integrating Manipulation Tools into High-Spec Mass Spectrometers


MDC Vacuum Products, LLC has had the pleasure of supplying catalog in-vacuum motion and manipulation products to Physical Electronics, a subsidiary of ULVAC-PHI,, a major supplier of UHV surface analysis instrumentation, for its breakthrough nanoTOF II time-of-flight secondary ion mass spectrometer (TOF-SIMS).

Low spectral background, superior sensitivity and the unique ability to image highly topographic surfaces are the key features of the nanoTOF II.

PHI, an original equipment manufacturer (OEM), was in need of an established, reliable and high-quality source for the specialized components on its instruments. With more than four decades of experience as a major supplier of vacuum technology components to OEMs, MDC had the capability and qualifications to address PHI’s requirements and uphold its high standard of quality and innovation. Every nanoTOF II instrument is equipped with MDC catalog vacuum components, which include a compact XYZ stage (P/N 678004) and a pneumatic linear motion feedthrough (P/N 662002).

Our innovative technologies provide our customers with unique tools to solve challenging problems, and accelerate the development of new materials and products.

Scott Bryan, President, Physical Electronics USA

Physical Electronics TOF-SIMS Instrument

TOF-SIMS helps obtain molecular, chemical state and elemental information from the surfaces of solid materials. For a TOF-SIMS measurement, the average depth of analysis is approximately 1 nm.

Physical Electronics TOF-SIMS instruments have an ultimate spatial resolution of less than 0.1 µm. Spatial distribution information is collected by scanning the surface of a sample using a micro focused ion beam. Depth distribution information can be acquired by using TOF-SIMS measurements in combination with ion milling (sputtering) to characterize a thin film structure.


Moreover, the Physical Electronics TOF-SIMS instrument comes with a unique 3D analysis capability that combines in-situ focused ion beam sectioning with high-mass resolution and high spatial resolution imaging (HR2) to perform 3D chemical characterization.

TOF-SIMS provides key information for many industrial and research applications, where thin film or surface composition plays a vital role in performance including: thin film coatings, display technology, magnetic media, semiconductor devices and packaging, adhesion, corrosion, catalysis, polymer surface modification, photovoltaics, nanomaterials and medical materials used for numerous applications.

Standard Features

  • TRIFT mass analyzer
  • 5 axis sample stage
  • Analysis chamber with four primary ion gun ports
  • Dual beam charge neutralization
  • 30 kV LMIG with Bi, Au or Ga emitter
  • Secondary electron detector
  • In-situ optical viewing
  • WinCadence instrument control and data
  • 350 l/s turbo molecular pump
  • Integrated bakeout facilities
  • Reduction software package

Option Features

  • MS/MS analyzer and electronics package
  • 20 kV Ar2500+ gas cluster ion gun
  • 20 kV C60 pulsed ion gun
  • 5 kV gas gun (Ar/O2)
  • 2 kV Cs ion gun
  • 30 kV Ga FIB gun
  • Hot/cold sample stage module
  • Oxygen flood module
  • High temperature sample stage module
  • Flash cooling for sample intro chamber
  • Intro chamber glove box
  • Sample transfer vessel

PHI’s nanoTOF II time-of-flight SIMS is an extremely sensitive instrumet and needs ultra-high vacuum (UHV) conditions to function. Due to this requirement, highly specialized materials and components capable of withstanding an ultra-high vacuum environment need to be implemented.

MDC Vacuum Products’ UHV expertise made the company PHI’s top choice for sourcing its critical linear motion feedthroughs for its nanoTOF II’s spectrometer system. MDC’s UHV pneumatic linear motion feedthrough (P/N 662002) consists of welded stainless-steel bellows and linear bearing shaft supports to deliver rapid, accurate and smooth linear motion in a UHV environment.


MDC’s UHV pneumatic linear motion feedthrough (P/N 662002) shown here on PHI’s nanoTOF II TOF-SIMS

The MDC pneumatic feedthrough is an integral part of the heart of our mass spectrometry imaging instrument...the spectrometer. The MDC pneumatic feedthrough operates and does its job without fail. We never even give it a thought because it’s so reliable.

Gregory L. Fisher, PhD, Principal Scientist, Physical Electronics


Physical Electronics TOF-SIMS instruments operate in a manner similar to SEM/EDS instruments that employ a finely focused electron beam to generate SEM images for sample viewing and point spectra or to produce images for compositional analysis.

Unlike SEM/EDS with a typical analysis depth of 1-3 µm, TOF-SIMS is a surface analysis technique which has a typical analysis depth of less than 2 nm and is, therefore, ideal for the compositional analysis of nanoscale sample features and ultra-thin layers. It is also possible to use TOF-SIMS to characterize molecular information from tissue sections and organic materials for medical research that is otherwise not possible with SEM/EDS.


In TOF-SIMS analysis, the mass of an ion is calculated based on the time taken by the ion to pass through the analyzer. It is necessary to restrict the kinetic energy spread and solid angle of acceptance in order to obtain the ultimate mass resolution (the ability to resolve different ions with very small mass differences).

The MDC linear motion feedthrough achieves this by moving an aperture in or out of the path of the signal. Using the pneumatic movement, the aperture can be quickly controlled to select the highest mass resolution mode or high angular acceptance mode, based on the application.


In conventional TOF-SIMS experiments, high mass peaks often go unidentified due to limitations in mass accuracy and mass resolution. This limitation can be eliminated using PHI’s new revolutionary Parallel Imaging MS/MS option. In the MS/MS mode, a precursor ion is deflected into a high energy collision induced dissociation (CID) cell while the rest of the secondary ions are collected as usual (MS1 data).

In the CID cell, the precursor ions collide with argon gas causing fragmentation. The resulting fragment ions are mass-separated in a linear TOF and counted at a second pulse counting detector, generating a full MS/MS spectrum (MS2). Therefore, the MS/MS and traditional TOF-SIMS data is obtained simultaneously from the same analytical area in one experiment.

MDC Compact XYZ stage

The Parallel Imaging MS/MS system has a precision optic for the ion mass selection of the precursor ions. The MDC Compact XYZ stage (P/N 678004) delivers the highest level of accurate and consistent 3-dimensional positioning of the precision optic for resolution optimization and ion transmission.

MDC’s Compact XYZ stage

MDC’s Compact XYZ stage

Top and Bottom: MDC’s Compact XYZ stage (P/N 678004) shown on the nanoTOF II TOF-SIMS

Pneumatic linear motion feedthroughs provide two-position fast action linear motion. Typical motion applications would include on-off, open-close and in-out motions similar to those of in-vacuum shutters. It is possible to shorten or lengthen linear travel by turning the adjustment knob positioned at the top end of the pneumatic actuator. Once adjusted the jam nut locks the knob in place.

Linear travel adjustment is from 0” to 1” for one-inch travel devices and from 1” to 2” for two-inch travel devices. The feedthrough body has been laser etched with linear travel graduation marks in increments of 0.025” for easy and quick positioning. A black anodized finish offers high contrast and visibility of the laser etched graduated scale. Pneumatic linear motion feedthroughs are available in travel lengths of 1” and 2”.

MDC feedthroughs are built from high-grade vacuum compatible materials and the combination of welded stainless-steel bellows and linear bearing shaft supports help achieve smooth operation and reliability. Pneumatic feedthroughs are offered in industry standard Conflat® compatible Del-Seal™ CF metal seal flanges or ISO KF Kwik-Flange™ elastomer seal port mounts.

P/N 662002

P/N 662002

Figure 10. P/N 662002

Standard Features

  • Pneumatic actuator
  • Solenoid air pressure to 100 PSIG maximum
  • 1 to 2 inch linear travel
  • UHV or HV compatible materials
  • Welded bellows seal
  • Adjustable linear travel stop
  • Del-Seal™ CF & Kwik-Flange™ port mounts
  • Bakeable to 100 ºC
  • Air control solenoid valve


  • Temperature range: -20 °C to 100 °C
  • Vacuum range: HV: 1x10-8 Torr | UHV: 1x10-11 Torr
  • Piston seal: BUNA low resistance U-ring
  • Shaft seal: AM 350 welded bellows
  • Selonoid valve: 120 VAC 50/60 Hz
  • Flange/actuator body: 304 SS / anodized aluminum
  • Lateral load: 5 lb at 2” extension maximum
  • Axial load: 20 lb maximum
  • Piston surface area: 0.88 in2
  • Actuator pressure: 60-80 psi

Compact Triple Axis XYZ Stages

Compact triple axis XYZ stages have smaller footprints compared to VPlane® stages. They provide a practical and economical solution for applications where space is limited. Models with bore diameters of 1.50” and 2.50” and 2” and 4” inches of linear travel are available.

The instruments precision Z drive uses a fine pitch lead screw mechanism with approximate positions measured along a graduated machinist’s scale with both inch and millimeter units included. The XY axes are micrometer driven and guided by cross roller bearing slides.

The unique laser etched plus-minus scales in micrometers indicate positive or negative port displacement. MDC triple axis XY stages deliver precise motion and manipulation of samples inside ultra-high vacuum environments. Top and bottom port flanges are offered in 2-3/4” and 4-1/2” Conflat® compatible, tapped Del-Seal™ CF metal seal flanges. The port flanges can be connected on all XYZ compact stages using edge welded stainless steel bellows.

P/N 678004

P/N 678004

Standard Features

  • Plus or minus 1/2 inch off center XY motion
  • 2 or 4 inch Z-axis travel
  • Bakeable to 230 ºC
  • Manual or motorized actuators
  • 1-1/2 and 2-1/2 inch bore diameters
  • Welded bellows seal
  • UHV compatible materials
  • Del-Seal™ CF port mounts


  • Temperature range: -20 ºC to 230 ºC
  • Vacuum range: 1x10-11 Torr
  • Actuator body: anodized aluminum
  • Flange: 304ss
  • Bellows: AM 350


MDC’s Compact XYZ stage (P/N 678004) shown on the nanoTOF II TOF-SIMS.


MDC’s UHV pneumatic linear motion feedthrough (P/N 662002) shown here on PHI’s nanoTOF II TOF-SIMS.


MDC Vacuum Products, LLC is an ISO 9001:2008 registered company and has been committed to offering high-quality and competitively priced vacuum components for more than four decades. With this extensive experience and detection to quality, innovation and customer satisfaction, MDC constantly meets and exceeds clients’ expectations. The company provides solutions to all vacuum needs, ranging from feedthroughs, fittings and standard valves, to custom made unique vacuum chambers.

MDC Vacuum Products

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by MDC Vacuum Products, LLC.

For more information on this source, please visit MDC Vacuum Products, LLC.


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