Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS) is probably one of the most frequently used techniques for quantitative analysis of composition, thickness, and depth profiles of thin solid films or solid samples near the surface region. It has evolved in the past few years from an obscure nuclear technique into a major materials characterization technique. This is primarily due to its simplicity, versatility, and the amount of information it can produce in a short time. Because of its quantitative feature, RBS analysis often serves as a standard for other techniques. The purpose of this article is to introduce the topic to a broad community of materials researchers. Readers who want a more rigorous treatment of the topic for utility purposes can refer to a monograph.
In the early 1960s, several of the low-energy atomic and nuclear physics laboratories started to use their accelerators to do research in solid-state physics. This activity opened up a fertile interdisciplinary area called ion-solid interaction, which impacts materials research significantly.