Using Residual Gas Analyzers for Contamination Monitoring and Process Control

Residual gas analyzers (RGAs) are compact quadrupole mass spectrometers that are usually used for process control and contamination monitoring in ultrahigh vacuum (UHV) applications. There are some differences in commercial RGAs between the ion source components and the pressure differential sampling systems, but the core set-up consists of a probe equipped with an ionizer and a detector that is capable of measuring the resolution of mass-to-charge ratios. With this technique the user can quantify residual gases or vapor in a vacuum and vacuum process with minimum alteration to the chemistry of the vacuum environment.

Residual gas analyzers

Hiden Analytical RGAs are relied upon in this field, regularly used to perform control or monitoring tasks such as:

  • Vacuum diagnostics including leak detection, using a search gas such as helium (He) measured at mass 4 for rapid analytical responses;
  • The detection of outgassing hydrogen at mass 2 from research vacuum chambers and vacuum furnaces, which can impact the formation of ultimate vacuum conditions;
  • Detection of any contamination in a UHV chamber, where various hydrocarbons are used in highly sensitive broad mass scans that can pick-up the presence of contamination

There are three specification levels in Hiden’s RGA Series: the HALO; the 3F Series; and the 3F-PIC. Although they contain components to vary the specification, each model is calibrated and tested to ensure exemplary working with the utmost of accuracy. The RGA series of mass spectrometry instruments feature mass range options of 50, 100, 200, 300, and 510 amu with high-speed acquisition of data ranging to 650 measurements per-second. While the 3F series and the 3F-PIC RGAs are primed for laboratory work, the HALO is best used in process control and contamination monitoring.


HALO RGAs are capable of measuring partial pressure values with high sensitivity, across the mass range for multiple species monitoring in real-time. Its accuracy is such that it can detect helium in air at 5 parts-per-million (ppm), a five-fold increase over a conventional analyzer. This is an unparalleled level of leak detection accuracy, providing a boon to users in improving UHV quality in their vacuum chambers.

The HALO can perform trend analysis and comprehensive vacuum surveys, with an ion source shroud for contamination resistance and complete removal of zero blast baseline drift. This enables residual gas analysis in a UHV environment with minimal invasion.

Hiden Analytical also offer the HPR-30, an integrated process and residual gas analyzing system, optimized for gas and vapor analysis in a broad range of processes.

HPR-30 System

The HPR-30 System allows for direct analysis with an improved sensitivity of 100 parts-per-billion (ppb) and a broad pressure range of 10-4 – 1000 mbar. This amazing accuracy is ideal for process control and contamination monitoring in applications such as atomic layer deposition (ALD) and vacuum coating, that require absolute degrees of purity to be controlled make sure the nanostructures are deposited accurately.

RGAs from Hiden Analytical

Hiden Analytical have over 30 years’ experience in the development and manufacture of dedicated mass spectrometers and see their products deployed in a practically limitless range of applications, informing studies and ensuring high-sensitivity process control for various sectors. Their RGAs have been implemented in various sectors, including theoretical astrochemical studies discussing the density of gaseous particles in vacuum environments.

If you would like any more information about their RGAs for process control and contamination monitoring, please get in contact with them.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Hiden Analytical.

For more information on this source, please visit Hiden Analytical.


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