Advanced Undergraduate Laboratory

Department of Physics

University of Toronto

XRF: X-Ray Fluorescence

The experiment provides an opportunity to study a number of phenomena associated with interaction of ionizing radiation with matter. The physics of semiconductors and modern semiconductor detectors can also be investigated.

X-ray induced fluorescence provides a rapid non-destructive means for both qualitative and quantitative elemental analysis of materials. A wide range of elements (Na-U) can be analyzed at the ppm level with minimal sample preparation. Charles Barkla won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1917 for his studies of XRF.

Write-Up: PART I (Introduction and compulsory exercises) and PART II (Free choice experiments).

(The experiment is located in MP245; last write-up revision: January 2017.)


Other Resources:

The experiment was developed and tested by 3rd and 4th year students in 2008-2015. Students' contributions to further development of the XRF experiment are expected and appreciated.

The X-Ray Original Fluorescence Machine, encased in lead shielding. This apparatus was built by Sir J.C. McLennan (after whom the Physics building was named) around the year 1923. It is no longer used for this experiment.

Currently working setup with low-power MiniX x-ray tube and up-to-date detection system. The x-ray tube does not need cooling with tap water flow; the Si-detector is no more maintained on a container with liquid nitrogen. The detector interface is connected to a computer with software to process spectra. The first spectrum of a rock sample of Mars obtained with Pathfinder mission in July 1997, using same kind of equipment and technique as in our experiment.

Last updated January 2017