Thermo Fisher Scientific x-ray based technologies

It was in 1895 that Willem Conrad Rontgen discovered X-rays which led to the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901. What was described to be an “accidental discovery of unknown radiation” turned out to be one of the most important and most useful discoveries of modern times. 125 years later, X-rays and the related phenomena are extensively used across a wide range of applications – from medical to industrial, from life science research to new technology materials, from environmental monitoring to food safety, from forensics to pharmaceuticals etc.

Thermo Fisher Scientific is proud to be associated with this milestone in 2020 by highlighting how our X-ray based technologies are enabling our customers to make a cleaner, safer and healthier world. Indeed, our company has been leading several X-ray technologies which are used in a variety of applications. From micro analysis of materials to their bulk elemental and structural analysis in a laboratory, from handheld instruments for field analysis to fully integrated process analyzers, from surface analysis to product inspection, Thermo Scientific X-ray techniques help scientists and engineers to accomplish their mission successfully.

We present here some of the technologies and applications where X-rays are put to their best use for the benefit of a number of industries and products.

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Technologies

X-ray Microanalysis is an analytical technique used in electron microscopes for elemental or chemical analysis characterization of samples such as metals, geological materials, and semiconductor materials. Techniques include energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) and wavelength-dispersive spectroscopy (WDS). Using spectral imaging data as its foundation along with an array of processing algorithms that assure the most precise data possible, Thermo Scientific Pathfinder Software changes the way microscopists use EDS and WDS  by going straight to the classification of the chemical phases in your sample. This greatly reduces the time needed to understand the chemical composition of a sample. This is now combined with Thermo Scientific ColorSEM Technology, which turns scanning electron microscopy into a color imaging technique. Elemental information is shown as colors in the live image for direct feedback on the composition. This provides the quickest and most intuitive access to elemental information at the microscale.

XRF (X-ray fluorescence) is a non-destructive analytical technique used to determine the elemental composition of materials. XRF analyzers determine the chemistry of a sample by measuring the fluorescent (or secondary) X-ray emitted from a sample when it is excited by a primary X-ray source. Each of the elements present in a sample produces a set of characteristic fluorescent X-rays ("a fingerprint") that is unique for that specific element, which is why XRF spectroscopy is an excellent technology for qualitative and quantitative analysis of material composition.

› Read more about XRF technology.

XPS is also known as electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA), is a technique for analyzing the surface chemistry of a material. XPS can measure the elemental composition, empirical formula, chemical state and electronic state of the elements within a material. XPS spectra are obtained by irradiating a solid surface with a beam of X-rays while simultaneously measuring the kinetic energy of electrons that are emitted from the top 1-10 nm of the material being analyzed.

Surface analysis contributes to the understanding for each of these areas: semiconductor/microelectronics, ultra-thin films, coatings, catalysis, welding, glass, corrosion, oxidation, failure, adhesives, motor/avionics, chemical and metal industries, and others.

Today’s microCT is a direct result of the first X-ray image taken 125 years ago. The first X-rays are credited to Wilhelm Röntgen (1845–1923) who took an X-ray image of the left hand of his wife Anna Bertha Ludwig, wearing her wedding ring. If you search the web for the image, you’ll see a blurry skeletal hand with a dark ring around the left ring finger. This first image taken on a glass plate is very comparable to the 2D projection images taken by the digital detectors of today. We have come a far way in 125 years, but the basics are still the same. The 2D images are reconstructed in a virtual 3D volume by advanced algorithms.

How does microCT work:
When you expose a sample to an X-ray beam some of the X-rays are absorbed by the sample, the rest of the X-rays travel through the sample and are collected by a detector. This give you a 2D projection image. Then you rotate the sample slightly and take the next 2D projection image. You perform this step multiple times. The now collected 2D images are reconstructed to a virtual 3D volume giving structural information of your sample without destroying it.

Wilhelm Röntgen’s discovery is extremely important for this valuable non-destructive imaging technique.

X-ray Microanalysis is an analytical technique used in electron microscopes for elemental or chemical analysis characterization of samples such as metals, geological materials, and semiconductor materials. Techniques include energy-dispersive spectroscopy (EDS) and wavelength-dispersive spectroscopy (WDS). Using spectral imaging data as its foundation along with an array of processing algorithms that assure the most precise data possible, Thermo Scientific Pathfinder Software changes the way microscopists use EDS and WDS  by going straight to the classification of the chemical phases in your sample. This greatly reduces the time needed to understand the chemical composition of a sample. This is now combined with Thermo Scientific ColorSEM Technology, which turns scanning electron microscopy into a color imaging technique. Elemental information is shown as colors in the live image for direct feedback on the composition. This provides the quickest and most intuitive access to elemental information at the microscale.

XRF (X-ray fluorescence) is a non-destructive analytical technique used to determine the elemental composition of materials. XRF analyzers determine the chemistry of a sample by measuring the fluorescent (or secondary) X-ray emitted from a sample when it is excited by a primary X-ray source. Each of the elements present in a sample produces a set of characteristic fluorescent X-rays ("a fingerprint") that is unique for that specific element, which is why XRF spectroscopy is an excellent technology for qualitative and quantitative analysis of material composition.

› Read more about XRF technology.

XPS is also known as electron spectroscopy for chemical analysis (ESCA), is a technique for analyzing the surface chemistry of a material. XPS can measure the elemental composition, empirical formula, chemical state and electronic state of the elements within a material. XPS spectra are obtained by irradiating a solid surface with a beam of X-rays while simultaneously measuring the kinetic energy of electrons that are emitted from the top 1-10 nm of the material being analyzed.

Surface analysis contributes to the understanding for each of these areas: semiconductor/microelectronics, ultra-thin films, coatings, catalysis, welding, glass, corrosion, oxidation, failure, adhesives, motor/avionics, chemical and metal industries, and others.

Today’s microCT is a direct result of the first X-ray image taken 125 years ago. The first X-rays are credited to Wilhelm Röntgen (1845–1923) who took an X-ray image of the left hand of his wife Anna Bertha Ludwig, wearing her wedding ring. If you search the web for the image, you’ll see a blurry skeletal hand with a dark ring around the left ring finger. This first image taken on a glass plate is very comparable to the 2D projection images taken by the digital detectors of today. We have come a far way in 125 years, but the basics are still the same. The 2D images are reconstructed in a virtual 3D volume by advanced algorithms.

How does microCT work:
When you expose a sample to an X-ray beam some of the X-rays are absorbed by the sample, the rest of the X-rays travel through the sample and are collected by a detector. This give you a 2D projection image. Then you rotate the sample slightly and take the next 2D projection image. You perform this step multiple times. The now collected 2D images are reconstructed to a virtual 3D volume giving structural information of your sample without destroying it.

Wilhelm Röntgen’s discovery is extremely important for this valuable non-destructive imaging technique.

Applications

Manufacturing & Metal Fabrication
The verification of metal alloys for quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) has never been more important for product reliability and safety. From metal production through final product assembly, the potential for material mix-ups is real. With all types of manufacturing operations facing increasingly stringent safety regulations, including those for electronics and medical devices, today’s best practices include testing 100% of critical materials. Handheld XRF analyzers provide elemental analysis to help ensure regulatory compliance and the safety of the public.

Positive Material Identification (PMI)
For petroleum and petrochemical facilities, the emphasis on safety and accident prevention has never been greater – and with good reason. According to one study, about 10% of corrosion-related accidents declare the inadequacy of material composition as the key component for failure. The requirement for positive material identification (PMI) in alloys used throughout the plant is more critical than ever. Simply relying on spot testing of parts and subassemblies is too risky and unacceptable. Handheld XRF analyzers provide elemental analysis to ensure regulatory compliance. 

Precious Metal Testing
Accurate and reliable test results remove variability – and subjectivity – in measuring the value of precious metals and ensuring a fair transaction. Many businesses are now turning to portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers for fast, accurate, and most importantly, nondestructive analysis of the precious metals that come into their shops.

Mining & Exploration
Miners seek solutions for rapid geochemical analysis that will enable them to increase discovery success rates, identify drill targets quickly, make on-site decisions about whether to stop or continue drilling, and decide where to focus on the grid. Miners must also get an accurate report to the capital markets as fast as possible. Handheld analyzers provide rapid, on-site qualitative screening directly in-situ or lab-quality quantitative analysis on prepared samples, bypassing the costly and time-consuming process of sending samples to off-site laboratories and waiting days, or even months, for critical data. 

Environmental Safety
From hazardous site modeling and risk assessment to on-site containment screening and lead paint abatement, decisions must be made quickly to protect workers from exposure to toxins and to minimize the spread of contamination. Traditional, lab-based analysis can take weeks to positively identify harmful materials, leaving workers at risk. Portable X-ray fluorescence analyzers can be used in virtually any remediation project and meet all major regulatory requirements.

Consumer Goods Testing
Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of consumer goods are challenged to meet stringent regulations on permissible levels of lead and other toxic metals in their products. By enabling rapid screening of metals, plastic, wood, fabrics, and paints at the receiving dock, in the warehouse, during product assembly, and in finished goods, portable XRF analyzers greatly reduce the chance that hazardous materials will enter the manufacturing process or accidentally end up on store shelves.

Art and Archaeometry Testing
The collection of quantitative data from archaeological samples, is one of the most trusted methods in archaeological study. Portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers are a useful tool for nondestructive analysis of art and artifacts in a variety of research applications, can help identify buried architectural features, hearth areas, fire pits, and burial grounds via in-situ soil testing, and help establish provenance.

Understanding the elemental composition of your materials at multiple touchpoints in the workflow process can help you adapt to new challenges unique to your market sector. We offer the products, services and technologies to help you understand your materials, regardless of the application. See our listing of resources for XRF in these areas:

Online slurry analysis systems provide accurate, real-time elemental analysis for process control of slurry streams for both light and heavy elements in minerals processing operations. Accurate, high-availability elemental analysis helps enable improvements in product quality, recovery and lower production costs. For any given metallurgical plant there are several key factors which need to be addressed in selecting the most suitable online elemental analysis system configuration for process control. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about process control for online slurry analysis in metallurgical plants.

Detecting physical contaminants in food, such as metal, glass, stone, plastic, and bone is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, especially when the contaminant may be as small as 1 mm in diameter. X-ray detection systems provide the highest sensitivity so you can find virtually any foreign object in your packaged food products. X-ray inspection systems are based on the density of the product and the contaminant. As an X-ray penetrates a food product, it loses some of its energy. A dense area, such as a contaminant, will reduce the energy even further. As the X-ray exits the product, it reaches a sensor. The sensor then converts the energy signal into an image of the interior of the food product. Foreign matter appears as a darker shade of grey and helps identify foreign contaminants.

Download the ebook: A Practical Guide to Metal Detection and X-ray Inspection of Food.

Is X-ray inspection of packaged foods safe?
X-ray inspection is one of the most effective ways to keep food products safe, but some people are under the false impression that it may be a health hazard. So is X-ray inspection of packaged foods safe? Resources to find out:

  Download infographic
  Download white paper

Metals Gauging, including Steel Manufacturing
Steel Manufacturers can produce quality steel products while maintaining output and efficiency with the help of non-contact thickness measurement gauges for hot- and cold-rolling mills that provide precise, real-time measurements during high-speed production of steel plate and sheet to help meet the tightest tolerances while maximizing raw material use. In addition, our coating weight measurement gauges provide fast feedback for coating control using well-established X-ray fluorescence (XRF) sensors.

See video on how gauges measure thickness and coatings.

Web Gauging
A Web Gauge is a measurement and control system used for products manufactured in a continuous web process. Web Gauging Systems ensure efficient production of uniform, reliable, functional products and can be fitted with a wide range of online, non-contact basis weight or thickness measurement sensors for flat-sheet applications in the plastics, packaging, lithium-ion battery, building products and textiles industries.

X-ray sensors provide non-contact weight measurement of a material on a moving web. The x-ray absorption characteristics of the product are used to accurately measure its properties, while the sensors deliver accurate, high-resolution measurement over a wide product range compared to nucleonic techniques. Its digitally controlled power source enables the sensor to be precisely tuned to measure specific material properties, allowing a wide range of products to be measured on the same line with a single sensor, resulting in a simple, cost-effective solution.

Download the eBook, What You Need to Know About Web Gauging Systems.

Manufacturing & Metal Fabrication
The verification of metal alloys for quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) has never been more important for product reliability and safety. From metal production through final product assembly, the potential for material mix-ups is real. With all types of manufacturing operations facing increasingly stringent safety regulations, including those for electronics and medical devices, today’s best practices include testing 100% of critical materials. Handheld XRF analyzers provide elemental analysis to help ensure regulatory compliance and the safety of the public.

Positive Material Identification (PMI)
For petroleum and petrochemical facilities, the emphasis on safety and accident prevention has never been greater – and with good reason. According to one study, about 10% of corrosion-related accidents declare the inadequacy of material composition as the key component for failure. The requirement for positive material identification (PMI) in alloys used throughout the plant is more critical than ever. Simply relying on spot testing of parts and subassemblies is too risky and unacceptable. Handheld XRF analyzers provide elemental analysis to ensure regulatory compliance. 

Precious Metal Testing
Accurate and reliable test results remove variability – and subjectivity – in measuring the value of precious metals and ensuring a fair transaction. Many businesses are now turning to portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers for fast, accurate, and most importantly, nondestructive analysis of the precious metals that come into their shops.

Mining & Exploration
Miners seek solutions for rapid geochemical analysis that will enable them to increase discovery success rates, identify drill targets quickly, make on-site decisions about whether to stop or continue drilling, and decide where to focus on the grid. Miners must also get an accurate report to the capital markets as fast as possible. Handheld analyzers provide rapid, on-site qualitative screening directly in-situ or lab-quality quantitative analysis on prepared samples, bypassing the costly and time-consuming process of sending samples to off-site laboratories and waiting days, or even months, for critical data. 

Environmental Safety
From hazardous site modeling and risk assessment to on-site containment screening and lead paint abatement, decisions must be made quickly to protect workers from exposure to toxins and to minimize the spread of contamination. Traditional, lab-based analysis can take weeks to positively identify harmful materials, leaving workers at risk. Portable X-ray fluorescence analyzers can be used in virtually any remediation project and meet all major regulatory requirements.

Consumer Goods Testing
Manufacturers, importers, distributors, and retailers of consumer goods are challenged to meet stringent regulations on permissible levels of lead and other toxic metals in their products. By enabling rapid screening of metals, plastic, wood, fabrics, and paints at the receiving dock, in the warehouse, during product assembly, and in finished goods, portable XRF analyzers greatly reduce the chance that hazardous materials will enter the manufacturing process or accidentally end up on store shelves.

Art and Archaeometry Testing
The collection of quantitative data from archaeological samples, is one of the most trusted methods in archaeological study. Portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers are a useful tool for nondestructive analysis of art and artifacts in a variety of research applications, can help identify buried architectural features, hearth areas, fire pits, and burial grounds via in-situ soil testing, and help establish provenance.

Understanding the elemental composition of your materials at multiple touchpoints in the workflow process can help you adapt to new challenges unique to your market sector. We offer the products, services and technologies to help you understand your materials, regardless of the application. See our listing of resources for XRF in these areas:

Online slurry analysis systems provide accurate, real-time elemental analysis for process control of slurry streams for both light and heavy elements in minerals processing operations. Accurate, high-availability elemental analysis helps enable improvements in product quality, recovery and lower production costs. For any given metallurgical plant there are several key factors which need to be addressed in selecting the most suitable online elemental analysis system configuration for process control. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about process control for online slurry analysis in metallurgical plants.

Detecting physical contaminants in food, such as metal, glass, stone, plastic, and bone is like trying to find a needle in a haystack, especially when the contaminant may be as small as 1 mm in diameter. X-ray detection systems provide the highest sensitivity so you can find virtually any foreign object in your packaged food products. X-ray inspection systems are based on the density of the product and the contaminant. As an X-ray penetrates a food product, it loses some of its energy. A dense area, such as a contaminant, will reduce the energy even further. As the X-ray exits the product, it reaches a sensor. The sensor then converts the energy signal into an image of the interior of the food product. Foreign matter appears as a darker shade of grey and helps identify foreign contaminants.

Download the ebook: A Practical Guide to Metal Detection and X-ray Inspection of Food.

Is X-ray inspection of packaged foods safe?
X-ray inspection is one of the most effective ways to keep food products safe, but some people are under the false impression that it may be a health hazard. So is X-ray inspection of packaged foods safe? Resources to find out:

  Download infographic
  Download white paper

Metals Gauging, including Steel Manufacturing
Steel Manufacturers can produce quality steel products while maintaining output and efficiency with the help of non-contact thickness measurement gauges for hot- and cold-rolling mills that provide precise, real-time measurements during high-speed production of steel plate and sheet to help meet the tightest tolerances while maximizing raw material use. In addition, our coating weight measurement gauges provide fast feedback for coating control using well-established X-ray fluorescence (XRF) sensors.

See video on how gauges measure thickness and coatings.

Web Gauging
A Web Gauge is a measurement and control system used for products manufactured in a continuous web process. Web Gauging Systems ensure efficient production of uniform, reliable, functional products and can be fitted with a wide range of online, non-contact basis weight or thickness measurement sensors for flat-sheet applications in the plastics, packaging, lithium-ion battery, building products and textiles industries.

X-ray sensors provide non-contact weight measurement of a material on a moving web. The x-ray absorption characteristics of the product are used to accurately measure its properties, while the sensors deliver accurate, high-resolution measurement over a wide product range compared to nucleonic techniques. Its digitally controlled power source enables the sensor to be precisely tuned to measure specific material properties, allowing a wide range of products to be measured on the same line with a single sensor, resulting in a simple, cost-effective solution.

Download the eBook, What You Need to Know About Web Gauging Systems.