Meny
08 May 2018

PORTABLE XRF – THE SILVER BULLET OR FOOLS GOLD?

We present our key note speakers. Check out Maggie Loubser abstract for her presentation at the 2018 Norwegian X-RAY Conference.

X-ray Fluorescence spectroscopy is a mature technique with the theory well described and routinely applied in process control, exploration, mining and manufacturing apart from research and development applications.  The “big shrink” as in most analytical technologies was the result of improved electronics and computer chips, and together with the advance of the SDD detector Energy Dispersive XRF was ready to enter the playground.  Portable  XRF moved from a metal sorting scanner to an actual quantitative analytical tool.  But here lies the biggest challenge, because of reduced cost and ease of operation this tool is now more accessible to people who often do not have the insight in the limitations.

One of the major advantages of portable XRF, is precisely the fact that the instrument can be taken to the material to be analysed, eliminating sampling, sample preparation and transporting samples to a laboratory.  All of which takes time, can add risk (as in art and conservation), and destroys the sample.  But herein lies the greatest risk too – because users forget that the largest contribution to uncertainty in XRF analysis is representative sampling and sample preparation.  If you are going to act like a cowboy, your results will be fit for the Wild West.

In this paper the differences between analysis in the field vs. the laboratory will be explained, and methods to improve accuracy or interpret the data based on the known inaccuracies will be presented. Geological studies will show how to get fit for purpose data in various scenarios.  Case studies will be shown in the field of art and conservation, where the ability to bring a non-destructive technique to the actual object probably had the biggest impact, again, not without pitfalls. Lastly, the possibilities of using the technique in process control will be investigated.