X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy services

X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), also known as electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA), is one of the most powerful analytical tools for evaluating material surfaces and surface compositions. 

XPS is a high-vacuum technique that measures the kinetic energies of photoelectrons emitted from a sample after X-ray bombardment. These energies provide a signature of elements present in the material. Slight energy shifts correlate to the elemental bonding structure, thus also providing molecular bonding information. Since photoelectrons are typically emitted from the top 5 to 10 nanometers of solid surfaces, XPS is one of the most surface-sensitive techniques available for studying adhesion, defects and contamination issues and is used routinely for the identification of atoms and molecules at the surfaces of solids.

Some typical XPS applications include:


  • Analysis of surface treatments on metallic substrates
  • Detection of chemical state changes following surface treatment
  • Determination of surface contamination
  • Chemical characterization of adhesion properties
  • Chemical functionality of coatings
  • Characterization of surface oxidation
  • Surface aging and weathering effects
  • Blooming effects in polymer matrices

All elements, with the exception of hydrogen and helium, but including lithium, boron, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen, can be measured by XPS, giving this technique impressive versatility for compositional analysis.


Our XPS scientists have more than 10 years of experience with X-ray elemental analysis techniques and have extensive expertise with a wide variety of vacuum-compatible solid, coating and powder materials, including polymers and plastics, thin inorganic layers, coatings and capstocks, additives, fillers and pigments, films, pellets, and plaques, metals and ceramics, glass, wood, wool, and textiles, roofing materials and tiles.

Arkema Analytical Services XPS specialty test services include:

  • XPS data acquisition
  • Identification of surface elemental and chemical composition of all solid materials with a sensitivity of about 0.1% atomic concentration (first 5 nm of the surface’s material).
  • Semi-quantitative analysis for most solid samples with a relative error of less than 1%.
  • Identification of contaminants at surface of solids.
  • Depth profile analysis to determine relative repartition of atoms and molecules.
  • Surface imaging of chemical states (relative repartition of various molecules or chemical functions).
  • Mapping capability (both elemental and chemical functionalities).
XPS spectrum of a polymer mixture

XPS spectrum of a polymer mixture highlighting the carbon and oxygen 1s lines and their correlation to polymer composition.