Archive for the ‘XRF Technology’ Category

How to Handle Spectral Overlaps with X-ray Fluorescence

A  popular application of Quickshot XRF analyzers is RoHS screening (important to note that they are used as a ‘screening’ device) and one question that comes up from time to time is about the potential of overlapping spectral peaks.  It is possible that an XRF analyzer will have two elemental peaks that overlap and this may result in mis-identification of the elements of interest.

However, these situations can easily be remedied with x-ray fluorescence systems like the desktop QSX-82D and some experience.  As shown in Image 1 (below), each element shows a K-alpha and K-beta spectral line with ED-XRF technology (highlighted here by Cadmium Ka and Kb).  When results are questionable, or when testing a sample for the first time, we would suggest the operator evaluate the spectrum of the sample.  The problem would be obvious and the operator can simply change one of the elements identifying energy lines to K beta and the second to K alpha.

Of course, a system with improved detector tube performance and resolution capabilities will be able to identify more defined spectral peaks (read SiPIN vs SDD).  This will make it a more straightforward task for the system, and operator, to appropriately identify elements because spectrums that overlap with one detector may not with another detector.

This is a quick summary but the approach would result in proper identification and greater assurance of elements present.  The Quickshot XRF desktop analyzer for RoHS testing shows the spectrums color coded and marked on the main screen.  If an XRF system doesn’t, then you should re-evaluate the analyzers that you are considering for RoHS screening.

Have a question about XRF Technology?  Contact a Quickshot XRF associate to discuss the question and answer!

What’s the Benefit? Advancements in XRF Detector Technology

Xray Fluorescence SpectrumQSX Instruments Inc offers three x-ray fluorescence analyzers that feature the latest generation of detector technology – Silicon Drift Detection (SDD).  Two desktop models, the QSX-82D for RoHS testing and the QSX-295Tplus for precious metal assay, along with a soon to be released Handheld XRF (QSX-HH2) provide the newest technology.

Each of these systems has counterpart models that feature Si-PIN detector technology (or, they offer the option).  So, the question that many organizations considering XRF technology ask is “What are the benefits of SDD over Si-PIN?”.

Keep in mind that the detection system is one of the critical components in ED-XRF technology.  It collects the emitted energy that results from displaced electrons in the form of an x-ray before it can be processed by the software package.  The peak intensities of emitted x-rays are characteristic of the elements contained in the sample and provide information about the elements concentrations.  Detection systems are selected for an instrument based on their resolution, count rates, ability to filter out background, and the testing need the analyzer is being developed to solve.

Both Si-PIN and SDD operate without liquid nitrogen (LN2) and provide similar stability and life expectancies (typically 4-6 years with proper care).  The newer technology, SDD, provides two major benefits that are beneficial to certain application fields.

Major benefits of Silicon Drift Detectors:

Improved Resolutions: the typical resolution of Si-PIN systems is ~170-190eV while SDD will be around ~120-140eV.  The improvement from SDD results in better separation of elemental peaks which will potentially provide increased accuracies and elemental range (depending on the application).

Faster Measurement Times: as an example, for precious metal assay, the QSX-295T using Si-PIN technology will typically provide accuracies around +/- 0.5% to the absolute value of a sample with 30 or 60 second measurements.  The new QSX-295Tplus (with SDD) can offer +/- 0.25% to the absolute with only 10 to 20 second measurements.

So, is their a ‘negative’ to SDD systems?  While QSX Instruments offers the noted systems at a very competitive cost of acquisition, the price of XRF analyzers featuring SDD will always be greater than the counterpart Si-PIN models.  The cost/benefit analysis has to be considered on a per need basis.  As an example, companies using a handheld XRF for positive material identification will pay the difference because of the faster results SDD provides.  While organizations using the x-ray fluorescence for RoHS testing do not see enough of an improvement in detection limits or measurement times from SDD, so the Si-PIN technology may fit the budget better and meet the testing need.

The best system for your testing need is ultimately your organizations decision.  However, the QSX Instruments line can provide a variety of options and we provide the support required during your research and decision process…contact a Quickshot XRF sales associate for a discussion on the best fit for your application.

QSX Instruments Inc: Interview

Quickshot XRF Founder
Scott Kramer is more than the Director of Sales and Marketing at QSX Instruments, Inc – he is also a founder of the XRF Sales company.  His career began over twenty years ago as a sales and service technician for an industry leading manufacturer.  QSX Instruments is the second successful organization he has started that focuses on X-ray Fluorescence technology and the solutions it provides.  Scott has a hand in every aspect of the organization and we were able to discuss a few topics with him here…

The first quarter of 2012 has been the most successful one in the history of QSX Instruments. 
What do you credit that to?
It is the type of quarter we expect at this point.  We offer a great product and our after the sales service/support is second to none, eventually word gets around.  Plus, the cost for a good performing XRF has always been too expensive for most of the smaller companies but our line seems to meet that need.

The Quickshot XRF line has focused on precious metal identification solutions – but what other applications are you most excited about the lines abilities in?
RoHS testing applications.  Offering both handheld and desktop systems for this interest lets us speak to the benefits that each model provides and suggest the best fit for a potential end-user.  When looking at the desktop system, the low cost Si-PIN system provides excellent results for RoHS screening needs while the SDD version reduces the measurement time by about 3/4 less but with top accuracy.

Looking at gold testing solutions; the line includes a handheld system but desktop models are the first suggestion.  Why is that?
The handheld systems work well for what they were designed for, portability and field use.  We find that many gold buyers use the ‘x-ray guns’ positioned so that the beam is pointed upward and they place parts on the nose of the gun.  This method works fine, but radiation may be emitted unless they have a part that is flat, thick enough and totally covers the aperature of the unit.  We sell bench top models for about the same cost and they emit zero radiation because the part is placed inside a chamber and the analyzer will not operate unless the door is closed.  Additional benefits of the desktop models are the streamlined software with excellent report generation, and the potential cost of ownership advantage that comes from a system operating at 1/10 its max power compared to a handheld that must run at max power to obtain similar results.  Gold buyers need to consider the long term benefits of the investment and I have asked our sales staff to provide information for them to consider.

What is your favorite Quickshot XRF analyzer?  Why? 
The newest analyzers; the QSX-295Tplus and QSX-82D.  These instruments are well thought out designs with specific goals in mind.  The speed and accuracy offered should make it hard to choose any other products.

What changes stand out from your twenty(plus) years involved in XRF?
Well, all the obvious answers apply here…greater range of applications, faster measurement speeds, the introduction of field portable systems (handheld XRF) and software design.  I am most proud of the Quickshot XRF software packages which our clients consistently note as being streamlined and simple to navigate.

How do you see the remainder of 2012 for Quickshot XRF?
We look forward to continuing the upward trend that we are on; thanks in large part to our satisfied clients telling their peers about the solutions we offer.  However, we are also excited to broaden our application reach with the handheld system and some potential new releases. 
Stay tuned; we are excited and we believe people interested in XRF will be as well.

X-ray Fluorescence Safety: Handheld and Desktop Analyzers

A common question that we hear is “How safe is XRF Technology?” and the short answer is ‘very safe’ but the answer can be expanded for the two styles of analyzers that Quickshot XRF offers – handheld (portable) systems and desktop (stationary) systems.  Both utilize the same basic technology; electronically induced radiation generated through a low energy x-ray tube and high voltage power supply but safety approaches vary slightly.

Handheld XRF Fluorescence: Essentially, these systems are as safe as the operator using one is.  All Quickshot XRF handheld analyzers are tested before shipping to insure no radiation leakage (safety radiation survey, visual inspection).  However, if a user does not follow basic safety guidelines they can be putting themselves at risk.

Handheld-XRF-SafetyThe image to the left shows a different brand of Handheld XRF being used in a low-cost holding stand and you will notice the operator is actually holding the sample in place with their hand – this doesn’t fall under the category of good common sense.  Holding stands for these ‘x-ray guns’ are very beneficial and we offer a stand that holds the unit in place, has a large platform to place samples and a lid to protect operators from any radiation.  Additional common sense when using handheld systems include not placing a sample on your lap or holding in your hand while testing it.  Of course, pointing the ‘gun’ at co-workers should never be done either…basic stuff that needs to be noted.

More about the instrument stand can be reviewed in a past blog entry on “Holding Handheld XRF“.

Desktop X-ray Fluorescence: These closed chamber systems are subject to Federal regulations that must be met to insure operator safety – all desktop systems from QSX meet the requirements.  The technology itself is safe because of the x-ray tube design (glass tube held in a thick metal chamber that is filled with oil) and all components are enclosed in a thick steel chamber.  However, additional safety requirements include four main items:
Key Switch: turns hi-voltage power supply on/off, controlling when radiation can be produced
X-ray On Light: indicates to an operator when radiation is being produced
Instrument Power Lamp: illuminated when the chamber has power, no radiation can be produced without power
Safety Interlock: a sensor on the door that will cut power to the HV Power Supply when the door is open

QSX Instruments Inc puts customer service and operator safety at a high priority.  We work to educate users on the proper operation of the systems and provide overviews of how they can be safe when utilizing x-ray fluorescence technology.  While we provide information and support, clients need to use common sense during operation (especially with handheld systems) and should have a safety radiation survey performed annually to insure operators are not exposed to radiation.

Contact a representative of QSX Instruments if you have any questions about the safety features of Quickshot XRF analyzers or general safety approaches when utilizing the technology.

Plated Gold? New Literature Discusses This Concern…

One of the most common questions we are asked about the Quickshot XRF analyzer line is if the technology can help protect gold buyers from plated gold.  Since it is such a common question, our Application Specialists put a little overview together highlighting what aspects of the QSX-295T Analyzer will help to protect a gold buyer.  You can request this summary through the literature request form (linked here).

Gold? Or, Plated Gold?
Gold? Or, Plated Gold?


This is yet another benefit of x-ray fluorescence technology because limiting ‘bad payouts’ will increase profit – your profit.  If you have ever purchased plated gold pieces or are concerned that increased gold prices will lead to increased ‘knock-offs’ then request the overview (from our literature page; here) and contact Quickshot XRF to discuss further.