Materials analysis

Materials analysis utilising radiation detection and measurement technologies is an integral component of numerous industrial processes. Southern Innovation’s SITORO® digital pulse processing technology improves detection speed and accuracy in materials analysis which, in many applications, is a time critical element of the industrial process. 

Accurate material engineering and analysis is critical across a broad range of modern industrial processes, whereby an array of analytical techniques are used to identify the chemical, molecular or structural composition of materials.

The materials under investigation may be solids, liquids, gases or powders and applications range across fields as diverse as automotive manufacturing, waste management, mineral exploration, semiconductors manufacture, farming and pharmaceutical development.

In order to characterise these materials various scientific techniques are used for the quantitative and qualitative analysis of materials. Prevalent analysis techniques include: X-ray powder diffraction (XRD); X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy and scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM).These procedures use radiation such as neutrons, gamma-rays, X-rays and electrons to analyse and characterise the attributes of a range of materials.

Materials engineering and analysis processes typically demand high throughput and accuracy. SITORO dramatically improves the performance of radiation detection and measurement techniques used for materials engineering and analysis. Relevant technologies include:

X-ray diffraction (XRD)

X-ray diffraction (XRD) involves using X-ray beams to hit an object and observing the incident and deflection angle of the beams (ie, measuring the diffraction).

XRD techniques are used extensively in a broad range of industries due to their ability to accurately detect, differentiate and analyse materials ranging from contraband drugs and explosives to metal coatings and silicon. XRD is an indispensable method for materials characterisation and quality control; it is a fast, cost-effective and non-destructive analytical technique.

XRD is widely used for the identification and quantification of unknown crystalline materials (such as minerals or inorganic compounds); it can determine the type and amount of material and is critical to geology, environmental science, material science, engineering and biology.

X-ray fluorescence (XRF)

X-ray fluorescence (XRF) techniques involve irradiating a sample with X-rays and observing the resulting X-ray fluorescence emitted by the sample.

Originally used to analyse geological samples, XRF has now developed an extraordinarily broad array of applications in fields including defence and security, environmental rehabilitation, food chemistry, agriculture, metallurgy, geology and waste monitoring. XRF spectroscopy is widely used to measure the elemental composition of materials. It provides a very accurate method to measure the composition of materials and is used in the quality control of many industrial processes.

As with XRD, this method is fast and non-destructive to the sample. XRF is a cost-effective method to quickly assess samples, both qualitatively and quantitatively, for contaminants (such as heavy metals and other substances in paint, food, fuel, soils and water).

Researchers at the Australian Synchrotron led by Dr Martin de Jonge used X-ray fluorescence microprobe results, which relied on SITORO® Accelerated Analysis, to create a 3D reconstruction of the distribution of trace elements in an ant mandible. Ants are significant agents of ecosystem processes, and understanding their role in accumulation and movement of elemental metal can aid in development of innovative mineral prospecting methods.