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X-Ray Fluorescence Spectrometry (XRF)

Location: Room 3102 in the Earth Sciences Centre

This method uses a high power X-ray tube to bombard a sample with X-rays. Secondary (fluorescent) X-rays released by the sample are used to determine which elements are present and their concentrations.

This XRF can measure all the elements in the periodic table from Oxygen upwards and is the preferred method for measuring major elements. Detection limits range from one part per million for heavy elements to 1000 ppm for Oxygen.

This technique is usually applied to solid samples, although it is possible to measure powders or even liquids.

High precision analyses requires careful calibration and sample preparation. Samples must be ground to a fine powder and briquetted into pellets for heavy elements (above Iron), or melted into a glass for light elements, using sample weights of 4g and 0.3g respectively.

A semi-quantitative scan can be used to measure all the elements in the sample. Using this scan, analyses can be obtained in the absence of any calibration standards, or with samples which are too small, or not powdered, although the latter must fit into the 50 mm diameter sample holders.

Analyses times are of the order of minutes, and 17 minutes for the semi-quantitative scan.

The main advantages of XRF are relatively simple sample preparation, rapid analyses, the ability to re-analyses samples many times, and with uniform predictable sensitivity.


Current Fee Structure

U of T: $12/sample

Other Universities: $12/sample

Commercial: $24/sample


Note: An ES Analytical Service Job Request form can be downloaded in PDF format. This form must be filled out completely and signed when submitting your work request.

You will need Adobe’s Acrobat Reader® to open the job request form. You may download it, at no charge, from Adobe Systems.

Dr. M. Gorton
Tel (416) 946-5309
Fax (416) 978-3938
E-mail: gorton@es.utoronto.ca