Desorption of chemisorbed Carbon on Mo(1 0 0) by noble gas ion sputtering: Validation of ground test measurements of ion engine lifetimes

Chih Sung Ho, Santanu Banerjee, Bruce E. Koel, Olivier B. Duchemin, James E. Polk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We report desorption cross section measurements for one monolayer of chemisorbed carbon on a Mo(1 0 0) surface induced by sputtering with noble gas ions (Ne + , Ar + , Xe + ) at different incident angles, ion energies, and substrate temperatures. Desorption cross sections were determined by using low-energy ion scattering (LEIS) to monitor the increase of the signal from the Mo substrate. A monolayer of p(1 × 1) carbon adatoms on the Mo(1 0 0) surface was created by dosing ethylene (C 2 H 4 ) to the substrate at 800 K, and characterized by Auger electron spectroscopy (AES) and low energy electron diffraction (LEED). We find that the carbon desorption cross section increases with increasing mass and energy of the impinging ions, and there is a maximum value for the desorption cross section at an incident angle for the ions of 30° from the surface plane. The desorption cross section also increases up to a substrate temperature of 300 °C. Values for the carbon desorption cross section for carbon adatoms on Mo(1 0 0) by 400-eV Xe + ion sputtering are about 2 × 10 -15 cm 2 , which is one order of magnitude higher than those for bulk carbon samples. This information is particularly important for evaluation of ion-engine lifetimes from ground-test measurements in which contaminant carbon is deposited on Mo accelerator grids, potentially altering the sputtering rate of the Mo. Our measurements show that monolayer amounts of carbon on Mo have desorption cross sections that are two orders of magnitude higher than estimates of what would be required to reduce the Mo erosion rate, and thus ground-test measurements can be used with confidence to predict ion-engine wear in space, from this perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2657-2664
Number of pages8
JournalApplied Surface Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Feb 15 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


  • Ar
  • Carbon
  • Desorption
  • Desorption cross section
  • Ion-engine lifetimes
  • Ions
  • Low-energy ion scattering (LEIS)
  • Mo(1 0 0)
  • Ne
  • Sputtering
  • Xe


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