Instrument: Niton XL3t 900SHE
X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF) is an elemental analysis technique that reveals the elemental composition of a sample. It is a fast, accurate and simple method that can be used both qualitatively and quantitatively and is non-destructive. In addition, our mobile XRF instrument allows analysis to be performed on-site avoiding the need for sample removal.
X-rays can cause the removal of an electron from atoms. If an electron is ejected from an inner orbital then the atom is in an unstable state and an electron from a higher energy orbital will fall to the lower energy orbital to lower the energy state of the atom.
In doing this, energy is released as a photon with equivalent energy to the difference between the higher and lower orbital energies, in accordance with Planck’s law.
Since the difference in orbital energies is unique to each element, measuring the energy of the emitted photon, to produce a spectrum, reveals the identity of the element responsible and thus the elemental composition of the sample may be determined.
Mixtures of elements can readily be distinguished and the strength of the spectrum is dependent on how much of each element is present.
XRF provides surface compositional analysis for a wide range of solid samples and is thus useful for identification of unknown samples or to confirm the identities of suspected samples.
The technique can be used in geological studies to support the identification of the mineralogy of samples based on the elemental composition.
The mobile instrument lends itself to on-site measurements which can save time and costs. During building restoration, for example, the unit can be used to help determine the identity of building materials.
XRF can also be a useful alternative to ICP techniques when a rapid determination of elemental analysis is required at greater than trace levels, for example when analysing alloy samples.
A wide range of sample types are amenable to XRF analysis and samples can be either solid or liquid. For quantitative analysis, samples should be flat. Typically around 20mg of sample is required. The method is non-destructive.