Technology

X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is an analytical technique which uses the interaction of x-rays with a target material to determine its elemental composition (i.e. the range of elements present and their proportions). XRF is a totally safe, non-destructive method: delicate and fragile artefacts can be analyzed at normal atmospheric pressure without risk of damage.

The non-destructive nature of micro-XRF analysis has allowed fast and easy elemental characterisation of objects as diverse as manuscripts and metallic artfacts. Samples are analyzed intact without any time-consuming, invasive or damaging preparation. In addition, the unique mono-capillary x-ray guide tube ensures that high-sensitivity measurements can be made without the need for a full vacuum (a further potentially damaging process for fragile historical objects).

Museum curators, conservators and archaeologists use analytical techniques to provide important information about the artefacts they are studying. For example, data recovered by the application of XRF technology may shed light on the specific materials and techniques used in manufacturing the object, its likely provenance and authenticity. Corrosion products and their probable causes can also be identified, which can generally assist in the initial conservation and subsequent day-to-day care of the many priceless historical objects to be found in museums, archaeological sites and collections around the world.

X-ray fluorescence has been used for the investigation of archaeological and historical materials for some fifty years; though a great variety of spectrometers has been successfully employed, it is only with modern, fully-portable systems that non-destructivity – one of the most attractive features of this technique – can be fully exploited. Thanks to the possibility of working in situ, portable spectrometers have extended the field of XRF analysis to virtually any type of object.

The fact that archaeological and historical objects are often unique, artistically and culturally significant and not easily movable clearly requires the use of non-destructive techniques and portable instruments. On this basis, X-ray fluorescence, which is an elemental analytical technique, is one of the most useful and widely exploited. In recent times a significant improvement in spectrometer technology has been achieved through the development of both thermoelectrically-cooled detectors and miniaturized X-ray tubes.

Portable XRF technology is causing a revolution in the world of artefact verification, on-site analysis of sensitive objects and materials, archaeological and environmental assessments and the testing of antiquities. Oxford Labs can bring you the benefits of XRF technology at an affordable price. Click here for our scale of charges.

  • Usage

    XRF spectroscopy is widely used for qualitative and quantitative elemental analysis of environmental, archaeological, geological, biological, industrial and other samples.
  • Compared to rival techniques, such as Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy (AAS), Inductively Coupled Plasma Spectroscopy (ICPS) and Neutron Activation Analysis (NAA), XRF has the advantage of being non-destructive, multi-elemental, fast and cost-effective.
  • Furthermore, XRF provides a good, uniform detection level across a large portion of the Periodic Table and is applicable to a wide range of concentrations, from 100% down to a few parts per million (ppm).
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Oxford Labs – FAQ

Which materials is XRF suitable for?
XRF can be used to test a wide range of materials from ceramics to metals and glass. It has various applications in industry, in environmental studies and the verification of antiquities. Read more

How do I get my item analyzed?
We can test on our premises or on site. Contact Oxford Labs for details of the services we offer.
How long does it take?
The process is fast and efficient. We aim to provide documentation and return of your items within two weeks. Read more

What results can I expect?
The chemical composition of the sampled area will be determined. We can offer an opinion as to the historical periods with which these results are consistent based on comparison with our database of known genuine results.
Does the process damage the item?
XRF does not damage the item. It is a safe and non-destructive process. Read more ...

What is the cost?
We offer a comprehensive service at a competitive price. Click here for our scale of charges.

What documentation will you provide?
The analysis will be fully documented and a signed certificate will be provided.