Have you ever wondered what things are made of? Is that Apple TiBook really made out of titanium!? Is all that Bling-Bling hanging around your neck really made out of pure platinum? I found out there is actually a portable XRF analyzer that can answer those questions and more. Before I get to the product, here is a little excerpt that explains how the process works…
Each of the atomic elements present in a sample produces a unique set of characteristic x-rays that is a fingerprint for that specific element. EDXRF analyzers determine the chemistry of a sample by measuring the spectrum of the characteristic x-rays emitted by the different elements in the sample when it is illuminated by high energy photons (x-rays or gamma rays). A fluorescent x-ray is created when a photon of sufficient energy strikes an atom in the sample, dislodging an electron from one of the atom’s inner orbital shells (lower quantum energy states). The atom regains stability, filling the vacancy left in the inner orbital shell with an electron from one of the atom’s higher quantum energy orbital shells. The electron drops to the lower energy state by releasing a fluorescent x-ray, and the energy of this fluorescent x-ray (typically measured in electron volts, eV) is equal to the specific difference in energy between two quantum states of the dropping electron.
NITON is the company that has made this technology portable. NITON’s hand-held energy-dispersive x-ray fluorescence (EDXRF) analyzers (it’s full name) are able to quickly, non-destructively determine the heavy elemental composition of: Metal and precious metal samples, Rocks and soil, Slurries and liquid samples, Painted surfaces, including wood, concrete, plaster, drywall and other building materials, Dust collected on wipe samples, and Airborne heavy elements collected on filters. Up to 30 or more elements may be quantified simultaneously by measuring the characteristic fluorescence x-rays emitted by a sample.
I’d love to have one of these! Anyways, I can’t find any prices, so I expect them to be far to expensive for a schmuck like myself.
If you’d like more information about this technology, check out Niton’s website.