Ionoluminescence in the helium ion microscope

Stuart A. Boden*, Thomas M W Franklin, Larry Scipioni, Darren M. Bagnall, Harvey N. Rutt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)


Ionoluminescence (IL) is the emission of light from a material due to excitation by an ion beam. In this work, a helium ion microscope (HIM) has been used in conjunction with a luminescence detection system to characterize IL from materials in an analogous way to how cathodoluminescence (CL) is characterized in a scanning electron microscope (SEM). A survey of the helium ion beam induced IL characteristics, including images and spectra, of a variety of materials known to exhibit CL in an SEM is presented. Direct band-gap semiconductors that luminesce strongly in the SEM are found not do so in the HIM, possibly due to defect-related nonradiative pathways created by the ion beam. Other materials do, however, exhibit IL, including a cerium-doped garnet sample, quantum dots, and rare-earth doped LaPO4 nanocrystals. These emissions are a result of transitions between f electron states or transitions across size dependent band gaps. In all these samples, IL is found to decay with exposure to the beam, fitting well to double exponential functions. In an exploration of the potential of this technique for biological tagging applications, imaging with the IL emitted by rare-earth doped LaPO4 nanocrystals, simultaneously with secondary electron imaging, is demonstrated at a range of magnifications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1253-1262
Number of pages10
JournalMicroscopy and Microanalysis
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • cathodoluminescence
  • helium ion microscopy
  • ionoluminescence
  • quantum dots
  • rare earth
  • scanning electron microscopy
  • yttrium aluminum garnet (YAG)


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