Imagine you can determine the elemental composition of a sample without preparation. No need to polish to produce a flat, homogeneous surface, or otherwise grind, dissolve or cut sample material. Irregular-shaped specimens aren’t a problem and measurement is non-destructive so the sample isn’t damaged.
Micro X-ray fluorescence (micro-XRF) spectroscopy offers exactly this and more. Based on XRF spectroscopy, a powerful analytical tool used to determine the elemental composition of bulk materials as well as characterize surface composition, micro-XRF provides the same for very small samples, as well as larger samples, and with very high sensitivity.
Materials scientists were among the first to embrace the technique, analyzing, for example, elemental distribution across printed circuit boards and large metal parts. But today, geoscientists are using the method to study any type of mineral sample, forensic scientists are determining gun-shot residues, and even archaeologists are obtaining elemental analyses of ancient artefacts.
This Essential Knowledge Briefing provides a general introduction to the technique, explains how it works and provides examples of what it can do. It also outlines practical issues related to the method, describes potential problems that could arise and how to solve them, and reveals forthcoming advances.