Identify Your Sample With an XRF Analyzer

A handheld XRF analyzer is a convenient way to determine the elemental composition of a sample. Whether youre checking the contents of scrap metal or identifying an unknown material in a lab, the right XRF gun will make your job significantly easier. Youll find plenty of new and used XRF analyzers on eBay.

Is a PIN or an SDD analyzer a better choice?

A silicon drift detector (SDD) is the most common type of XRF analyzer. This type of spectrometer can measure a greater range of elements with more precision and at faster speeds than other technologies on the market. As a result, SDD analyzers are also usually more expensive, but the time that they save often makes up for the increase in price.

A PIN detector is an older technology that still sees frequent use. PIN spectrometers are typically cheaper, and they take less energy and materials to operate. However, this type of spectrometer doesnt work as well for the lighter end of the spectrum and should only be used to measure heavy or high-energy elements.

How to select an anode material for your analyzer

The anode material used in an XRF target tube will determine which elements your handheld spectrometer can analyze. If the characteristic lines of the anode material conflict with the characteristic lines of the element you are looking for, you may need to use a filter or choose a different spectrometer.

Youll find used affordable XRF analyzers on eBay with every kind of anode imaginable. Unless youre looking for a specialty analyzer, you should consider one of the following anode materials:

  • Silver (Ag): Silver is a flexible anode material that can measure most parts of the spectrum. If youll be measuring a wide variety of materials, a silver anode is a good choice.
  • Rhodium (Rh): Rhodium is used to measure elements on the lighter side of the spectrum. Because rhodium anodes can measure magnesium, which is found in aluminum, Rh analyzers are commonly used for alloys and scrap metal.
  • Tungsten (W): Tungsten is better for elements on the heavier end of the spectrum. In particular, tungsten can measure cadmium, an element that conflicts with rhodiums spectral lines.

What features are available on handheld XRF analyzers?

Even the most basic handheld XRF analyzer will feature a screen to display your elemental readout; the size and quality of the screen will depend on the model. You can also find XRF guns with cameras, Wi-Fi connection, and the ability to export your readings via USB.

Depending on the model of XRF analyzer that you choose, you might be able to change the size of the sample area. Some analyzers offer wide or variable sample zones; others feature a collimator that can narrow the size of the sample beam.

Finally, consider how durable the handheld XRF gun is before you buy it. If you plan to take your analyzer out into the field, you want to make sure that its resistant to high temperatures, dust, and water. Some handheld XRF alloy analyzers also promise to be drop-resistant and may even feature a long battery life.