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XRF Sample Preparation using Pellet Press Die Sets

Introduction to XRF and Sample Preparation

X-ray Fluorescence (XRF) is a powerful analytical technique used to determine the elemental composition of materials. It works by bombarding a sample with X-rays, causing the atoms to emit characteristic fluorescent X-rays. These X-rays are then detected and analyzed to identify the elements present in the sample and their respective concentrations.

XRF is widely used in scientific research and various industries, including mining, environmental monitoring, and material analysis. Common samples analyzed with XRF include geological samples, metals, alloys, minerals, ceramics, and more. The technique is non-destructive, fast, and allows for multi-element analysis without the need for extensive sample preparation.

The Importance of Proper Sample Preparation

While it is possible to directly analyze ground powder samples with XRF, this method has limitations. Large void spaces in the powder can lead to ineffective sampling and require a large depth of material, potentially affecting the accuracy of the analysis. A more common and accurate option is to prepare the sample as a dense pellet before XRF analysis.

Pressing the sample into a pellet provides several advantages over loose powders. It creates a more homogeneous representation of the sample, eliminating void spaces and minimizing sample dilution. As a result, this leads to higher intensities for most elements, enhancing the accuracy and sensitivity of the XRF analysis. Pressed pellets are particularly excellent for the analysis of elements present in trace amounts (ppm range).

Pellet Pressing Options

There are different methods of pellet pressing, each catering to specific analysis requirements and sample characteristics. One option is to press the powder itself, while another is to mix the powder with a cellulose wax binder in a proportion of 20%-30%. This binder is not detected by XRF, ensuring that the analysis focuses solely on the sample elements.

Another option is to press the sample into an aluminum cup. The aluminum cup provides additional support for the pellet, which can be beneficial for materials that are prone to breaking apart easily or need to be handled, stored, or transported over an extended period. The aluminum cup has thin walls and a tapered edge, made with close tolerance to the die set, ensuring a precise and flat surface for examination, with the sides and top of the pellet supported by the deformed aluminum.