XRF imaging/mapping

X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is the emission of characteristic "secondary" (or fluorescent) X-rays from a material that has been excited by being bombarded with high-energy X-rays.

What is XRF imaging/mapping?

XRF imaging employs a highly focussed beam of x-rays, typically micrometers to nanometers in diameter, to create a fluorescence image (or map) of a sample. The sample is moved through the beam to build up a series of fluorescence scans at different, well defined, positions. These scans are combined into a map, much like the pixels of a digital camera are combined into an image.

An alternative to the mapping approach would be to use a lens, much like a lens is used in a camera to focus an image onto the sensor of a digital camera. However, the relatively high energy of x-rays make them difficult to focus and so this mapping technique is often preferred.

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Which detector is used in x-ray fluorescence imaging?

Detector choice is dependent on the energy range of interest. A silicon drift detector is typically used for energies up to ~35 keV, with germanium (Ge) or cadmium telluride (CdTe) detectors used above this range.


What can XRF imaging detect?

XRF imaging allows scientists to image a sample beyond the visual spectrum to see patterns and structures of a its constituent elements. The technique can be expanded into three dimensions by taking a series of images at different angles. These images are processed using a mathematical deconvolution algorithm, in a technique known as tomography, to create three-dimensional maps.


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