Glow Discharge Optical Emission Spectroscopy GD-OES

Glow discharge optical emission spectroscopy (GD-OES) is an efficient method for the quantitative analysis of the element composition of a material. In the area of surface characterization it excels in the information content per cost ratio. 


Glow Discharge Optical Emission Spectroscopy (GDOES) provides rapid, direct bulk analysis and depth profiling analysis of solids: metals, glasses and ceramics. The speed of analysis makes it particularly interesting in the context of process development and quantity control. 

GDOES is comparable to Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry, but faster and more readily quantifiable. Both conductive and non-conductive layers can be characterized.

Principle of operation

In a glow discharge, cathodic sputtering is used to remove material layer by layer from the sample surface. The atoms, removed from the sample surface, migrate into the plasma where they are excited through collisions with electrons or metastable carrier gas atoms. The characteristic spectrum emitted by this excited atoms is measured by the spectrometer.The intensities recorded as function of time. Based on a calibration method, establish beforehand, these qualitative results can be transformed in a quantitative content depth profile.

GDOES analysis can be performed on both conducting and non conducting surfaces. It is also possible to measure curved surfaces.  All relevant elements including the light ones as H, O, N, C, are measured quantitatively.


QDP of Cr layer on nitrided stainless

GDOES Polychromator

GDOES source

GDOES application

  • bulk analysis (elemental compositions)
  • quantitative depth profile: analysis of the surface (in-depth profile) up to 100 µm
  • depending on the surface topology, layers of less than 100 nm are measurable
  • curved samples can also be analysed

conductive to isolating


Complementary techniques can broaden the analytical picture

ALPS publications on GDOES

Improved semiconducting CuO/CuFe2O4 nanostructured thin films for CO2 gas sensing Chapelle, A.; El Younsi, I.; Vitale, S.; Thimont, Y.; Nelis, Th; Presmanes, L.; Barnabe, A.; Tailhades, Ph;

Sensors and Actuators B-Chemical; 204; (2014) 407-413
DOI: 10.1016/j.snb.2014.07.088

Oberflächenanalyse an dünnen Schichten

M. Baak, Th. Nelis, G. Tschop
Polysurfaces No 03/13, p.22-23

Further insights into prepeak emission in pulsed radiofrequency glow discharge

Valledor, Rebeca; Vega, Paola; Pisonero, Jorge; Nelis, Thomas; Bordel, Nerea;
Spectrochimica Acta Part B-Atomic Spectroscopy; 85; (2013) 45-54
DOI: 10.1016/j.sab.2013.04.002


L’analyse de surface rapide comme aide aux procédés de dépôt

G. Tschopp, M. Baak, E. Barisone, T. Nelis

Polysurfaces No 05/11, p.21-23

Oberflächenanalyse mittels GDOS - Messung an gewölbten Proben

M. Baak, G.Tschopp
Article in pdf-Format