Elemental surface profiling techniques such as Auger electron spectroscopy, secondary ion mass spectroscopy, and ion scattering spectroscopy use about a 1- to 3-keV beam of ions to sputter away the surface as spectra are obtained. For a complete profile of even a thin film, many repetitive runs are necessary. In the standard commercial ion scattering spectrometer (ISS) (3M Company) the voltages to the plates of the spectrometer are increased during a scan by a motor-driven precision potentiometer. After each spectrum the potentiometer must manually be returned to zero or to the selected restart point. This procedure requires a great deal of operator attention and does not lend itself to signal averaging or digital data acquisition.

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