What Does X-Ray Fluorescence Mean and How Does the Process Work?

by | Aug 19, 2019 | Electronics and Electrical

X-ray fluorescence (XRF) entails the emission of fluorescent (i.e., secondary) X-rays from certain materials that are excited using either gamma rays or X-rays. This process is often used for chemical and elemental analysis for analyzing metals or for conducting research in forensic science, archaeology, geochemistry, or art, including murals and paintings.

How the Process Works

During X-ray fluorescence, materials are exposed to gamma rays or X-rays, followed by the potential ionization of the material’s component atoms. Ionization entails ejecting one or multiple electrons from the atom and could take place if the material’s atom is exposed to high-energy radiation that’s stronger than its potential for ionization.

Both gamma and X-rays can possess enough energy to remove electrons from the atom’s inner orbitals, regardless of how tightly held they are. Removing these electrons results in instability of the atom’s electronic structure, as high-orbital electrons transfer to the lower orbitals in an attempt to replace these lost electrons. In the process, photon energy is released, which is equivalent to the energy difference between both orbitals. As a result, the ionized material emits a level of radiation.

X-ray fluorescence comes into play when the absorption of a specific energy’s radiation culminates in radiation re-emission from a different, typically lower, energy.

Overall, the process is an effective means of analyzing various materials and determining their elemental structure.

The Role of XRF X-Ray Tubes

The XRF X-ray tube is one of the key components of an X-ray fluorescence analyzer. A majority of these tubes are designed to last for up to four to six years or 10,000-30,000 hours.

Unfortunately, certain vulnerabilities could limit the lifespan of these tubes, including insufficient cooling and low kV and high mA power levels. However, certain products available are designed to last and remain energy-efficient.

If you’re looking for some of the best XRF X-ray tubes on the market, turn to in California today.

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