Isotope dilution mass spectrometry of microelectronically relevant heavy metal traces in high-purity cobalt

Research paper by Bernhard Beer, Klaus G. Heumann

Indexed on: 01 Aug '93Published on: 01 Aug '93Published in: Fresenius' journal of analytical chemistry


Because cobalt and its silicides are increasingly used in microelectronic devices, an isotope dilution mass spectrometric (IDMS) method has been developed for trace analysis of relevant heavy metals (U, Th, Fe, Zn, Tl, and Cd) in high-purity cobalt. The measurements of the isotope ratios were carried out with a small thermal ionization quadrupole mass spectrometer by producing positive thermal ions in a single- or double-filament ion source. For the trace/matrix separation and the isolation of the different heavy metals, anion-exchange chromatography and an extraction method for iron were applied. The detection limits obtained were (in ng/g): U=0.007, Th=0.017, Tl=0.06, Cd=1, Zn=8, and Fe=11, which demonstrates that the particularly critical radioactive impurities uranium and thorium could be analysed down to the low pg/g range. Three cobalt samples of different purity were analysed with concentrations ranging from about 0.1 ng/g for U and Th in an ultra high-purity material produced for microelectronic purposes, up to about 70 μg/g for Cd in a cobalt sample with declared purity of 99.8%. Because IDMS usually results in accurate analytical results, it can be used in the future for calibration of other methods like glow discharge mass spectrometry, as could be shown by analysing one cobalt sample by both methods. IDMS can also be applied for the production of urgently needed certified standard reference materials in this important field of high technology.