Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS) is a major materials characterization technique that can provide information in a short analysis time. It is used for quantitative compositional analysis of thin films, layered structures, or bulk materials and to measure surface impurities of heavy elements on substrates of lighter elements. This article focuses on RBS and its principles, such as collision kinematics, scattering cross section, and energy loss. It describes the channeling effect and the operation of the RBS equipment. The article also provides information on the applications of RBS.