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Comparison of C60 and GCIB primary ion beams for the analysis of cancer cells and tumour sections

Journal article
Authors John S. Fletcher
Sadia Rabbani
Andrew M. Barber
Nicholas P. Locker
John C. Vickerman
Published in Surface and Interface Analysis
Volume 45
Issue 1
Pages 273-276
ISSN 0142-2421
Publication year 2013
Published at
Pages 273-276
Language en
Subject categories Analytical Chemistry


We have implemented a gas cluster ion beam (GCIB) system developed by Ionoptika Ltd (Southampton, UK) with sufficient control to allow us to exploit the unique capabilities of our J105 instrument for imaging and depth profiling. The J105 allows us to use the GCIB as continuous primary ion beam, thereby overcoming the issues associated with pulsing these slow moving, mixed species beams. We have performed a direct comparison with C60 ions on the same samples in the same instrument. The GCIB beams are more difficult to focus than the C60+ ion beam, making single-cell imaging difficult, although spot sizes of 15–20 µm are readily obtainable for Ar1000 and Ar2000, providing good resolution for larger area imaging on tissue section/biopsy samples. In this paper, we present results from the assessment of these new beams as primary ions for the analysis of ‘real’, complex biological systems. Initial spectra and those following increased primary ion bombardment were compared for in vitro cultured cells deposited on silicon and cryo-sectioned tumour samples originating in vivo. Ar1000+ and Ar2000+ showed increased persistence of the signals from intact molecular ions of phospholipids and a reduction in the accumulation of chemical background noise compared with C60+ analysis.

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