Light Metal Alloys and Light Elements: Best Analyzed with SDD-based Handheld XRF Instruments

The inclusion of Silicon Drift Detectors (SDD) and very closely coupled detector geometry has made the analysis of light alloys like aluminum and magnesium alloys – as well as light elements like Si, Al, P and S – in heavier metals possible using handheld XRF.  Due to the low energy of the X-rays generated by these light elements, the efficiency of detection is much lower than heavy elements like Fe, Ni, Mo.  However, by using careful detector design, very thin entrance windows on the detector, and multiple beam conditions, it is possible to achieve acceptable detection of these elements within a reasonable time.  A handheld XRF analyzer with an SDD is capable of providing complete analysis of stainless steels in about five (5) seconds, while the analysis of the light elements and light metal alloys takes from fifteen to thirty seconds to achieve good chemical analysis.

Another issue which is caused by the low energies of the light element X-rays is that measurement depth achieved for these elements is extremely short (on the order of less than a micron). Therefore, the surface preparation of the sample being measured becomes extremely important. It is essential that the surface of the sample being measured be very smooth and clean. Any contamination or roughness on the surface of the sample will impact the measurement and decrease the accuracy of the chemical analysis.

Please contact our experts to understand how handheld XRF can work for your application.