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Expert-Approved XRF Analyzers from Metal Analysis Group


X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is a widely used, non-destructive analytical technique for determining the elemental composition of various materials. It operates by irradiating a sample with X-rays, causing the sample to emit fluorescent X-rays of different wavelengths. These emitted X-rays are then separated and measured by an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, allowing both qualitative and quantitative analysis of the material.

Principles and Technology of XRF

XRF works by directing an X-ray beam at a sample, which excites the atoms within it. This excitation dislodges electrons from the inner orbitals, and as these vacancies are filled by electrons from outer orbitals, energy is released in the form of secondary X-rays, or fluorescence. Each element emits X-rays at characteristic wavelengths, which serve as fingerprints for identifying the elemental composition of the sample. This process is relatively non-destructive, making XRF ideal for analyzing rare or valuable objects and ensuring material quality in various industries.

Types and Features of XRF Spectrometers

XRF spectrometers can be classified based on their methods of excitation, dispersion, and detection into two main types: Wavelength Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (WDXS) and Energy Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy (EDXS). Both types have distinct advantages:

  1. Advantages:

    • Simple equipment
    • High sensitivity and accuracy
    • Suitable for atmospheric work
  2. Disadvantages:

    • Limited by the incident depth of X-rays, making it less effective for analyzing thin films below the micron level.

Applications of XRF Technology

XRF technology is used across a broad range of fields, including metallurgy, geology, mining, petroleum, chemicals, biology, medical diagnostics, criminal investigation, and archaeology. It is crucial for conducting material composition analysis, chemical state research, and ensuring the quality of products and materials. XRF is also employed in environmental science, material science, and life science for multi-element analysis.

Sample Preparation and Analysis

For XRF analysis, samples can be in solid or aqueous solution form. Proper sample preparation is essential to minimize measurement errors. The samples must be free from water, oil, volatile components, and corrosive solvents. XRF analysis involves both qualitative and quantitative assessments:

  • Qualitative Analysis: Identifies the elements present in a sample based on the specific wavelengths of their fluorescent X-rays.
  • Quantitative Analysis: Measures the concentration of elements within a sample, using methods like the standard curve method, incremental method, and internal standard method to ensure accuracy despite potential matrix effects or coexisting element interference.

Handheld XRF Analyzers

Handheld XRF analyzers are particularly valuable for on-site, fast, and non-destructive material verification. These portable devices are extensively used in industries such as scrap metal recycling, metal manufacturing, and quality control assurance. They allow for quick, accurate identification of various metals and alloys, including stainless steel, ferrous metals, aluminum, copper, nickel, and gold. The data collected by handheld XRF analyzers can be instantly sent to staff, facilitating efficient sorting and blending of materials.

Benefits of Handheld XRF

  • Fast and precise light element detection
  • Effective for primary screening of restricted substances in electronics and electrical products
  • Enhances productivity and reduces fatigue in scrap metal sorting
  • Increases profitability for recyclers by enabling comprehensive material checks


X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is a versatile, accurate, and non-destructive analytical technique essential for material composition analysis in various industries. Whether using bench-top or handheld spectrometers, XRF provides reliable results crucial for quality control, safety assurance, and efficient material processing. Its broad application spectrum and ease of use make it a preferred choice for elemental analysis worldwide.