In x-ray photoemission measurements, differential charging causes the measured binding energy difference between the Si 2p of the oxide and the silicon substrate to vary nonlinearly as a function of the applied external do voltage stress, which controls the low-energy electrons going into and out of the sample. This nonlinear variation is similar to the system where a gold metal strip is connected to the same voltage stress through an external 10 Mohm series resistor and determined again by x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). We utilize this functional resemblance to determine the resistance of the 4 nm SiO2 layer on a silicon substrate as 8 Mohm. In addition, by performing time-dependent XPS measurements (achieved by pulsing the voltage stress), we determine the time constant for charging/discharging of the same system as 2.0 s. Using an equivalent circuit, consisting of a gold metal strip connected through a 10 Mohm series resistor and a 56 nF parallel capacitor, and performing time-dependent XPS measurements, we also determine the time constant as 0.50 s in agreement with the expected value (0.56 s). Using this time constant and the resistance (8.0 Mohm), we can determined the capacitance of the 4 nm SiO2 layer as 250 nF in excellent agreement with the calculated value. Hence, by application of external do and pulsed voltage stresses, an x-ray photoelectron spectrometer is turned into a tool for extracting electrical parameters of surface structures in a noncontact fashion. (c) 2005 American Institute of Physics.