Archive for October, 2017

Silicon Drift Detectors (SDD) in Hitachi Elemental Analyzers

Determining the right XRF spectrometer for your elemental analysis interests can be a long process – the market is filled with different software features, staging options, chamber sizes, etc.  Even within the Hitachi High-Tech line of elemental analyzers (appropriately known as the ‘Hitachi EA Series’), different options can make one analyzer a more appropriate fit than others depending on your testing goals.

Vortex XRF Detection System

Hi-Resolution XRF Detector

One of the x-ray fluorescence options, or variables, that needs to be considered for most elemental analysis needs is the detector technology used.   The Hitachi EA Series offers four different analyzer configurations, from the ‘ultimate’ Hitachi EA6000VX to the more ‘entry model’ Hitachi EA1000A-III.  Three of the four feature a Hitachi manufactured Vortex Detector (VX in their names).  The Vortex Detector is a multi-cathode Silicon Semiconductor Detector but is more commonly referred to as a Silicon Drift Detector (SDD) and provides greater resolution, which can help improve results for many applications.

Associates of Eastern Applied Research ran some samples to show the difference in spectral resolution that a Vortex (SDD) Detector can offer over a more common Silicon Semiconductor Detector (SSD).  Analyzing two samples for RoHS testing interests, one plastic matrix and one metal, we compared the detailed spectrum for Pb from each detector technology.

Elemental Analyzer Detector Spectrums

It is clear that the Vortex SDD provides a more defined spectrum than the SSD technology.

The questions to ask are ‘why does this happen’ and ‘what is the benefit’?

Why a Vortex detector provides more defined spectrums:
The Vortex SDD’s feature large active areas (between 30mm2 and 80mm2) and are produced from high purity silicon with state of the art CMOS production.  They are able to provide excellent energy resolutions and high count rate capabilities – with a very short peaking time, a high count rate can be achieved.  Processing high count rates with very small loss in energy resolution and minimal peak shift is unique to these detectors – resulting in their high performance and longevity.  Learn more about the Vortex Detector.

What are the benefits of the Vortex Detector:
When the Hitachi XRF line is used for quantitative analysis of trace elements or qualitative analysis of unknowns (mining, geological testing, or a more detailed process control application) then the improved spectral peak differentiation provided by these detectors will result in the ability to achieve lower detection limits for a broad range of elements.

However, many of the Hitachi EA-Series spectrometers are used for RoHS testing.  So, when considering the benefits for this interest, basic RoHS interests can typically be achieved with the more common SSD technology – but the highly defined spectral peaks of a Vortex SDD can reduce the error of measurement while providing faster measurement times…resulting in increased confidence of results and greater throughput.

The detector technology in an XRF spectrometer is really only one aspect of the decision process your organization will be making.  Contact associates of Eastern Applied Research to have a complete discussion of your testing goals and the benefits that each Hitachi elemental analyzer can offer.

Installation of an X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) Analyzer

The fact that x-ray fluorescence is a well established quality control tool for many metal finishing companies will often make the installation and training portion of any analyzer purchase an afterthought.  However, the initial support and capabilities for future service of an XRF analyzer should be considered by any company making the investment – whether a first time, or long time, user of the technology.

Here is a quick overview of what happens after you decide on an XRF:

Pre-Installation Steps:
The technical staff at Eastern Applied Research will put any analyzer, new or used, through some basic testing to insure analyzer stability.  This happens at our service center and can take one to two weeks depending on the details.

During this pre-installation time, our Application Specialists will review a buyers applications and highlight any that should be set-up and tested prior to the installation.  These are typically multi-layer coatings or complex alloy coatings.  The application support staff of Eastern Applied will also review any current XRF calibration standards that a client may have and suggest new ones, or modifications, if beneficial.

The goal of the pre-installation is to simply insure the purchased XRF is operating to specification.  It is not to install a clients full application range – our on-site installation technician will be teaching operators how to add calibrations.

Common at All XRF Installation Services:
After arriving at your facility, the technician will unpack the XRF and get it set-up in its operating space…making certain that the environment is the best possible one for the long term performance of the system.

The XRF will require a warm up period, which varies based on the system, and then the technician will perform the analyzer certification.  They will perform all the steps detailed in our article on XRF Analyzer Certification and Safety Radiation services and provide the related documentation at the end of the installation.  This step will confirm the analyzer is in good working order after shipping and actual training can begin.

Experienced XRF Users:
When a facility, or operator, is familiar with an x-ray fluorescence make/model, then training will often be fairly quick.  As an example, a plating shop replacing a Seiko SFT-9200 with the newer version of that system, the Hitachi FT110A, won’t need to learn much relating to software flow, report generation, etc.  The bulk of the training in this case would be to introduce any new features that the updated model may have…in the example noted, a Hitachi FT110A may have auto-focus, wide-view, or improved fundamental parameters which would require an introduction.

First Time XRF Users:
These installation services will certainly be more in-depth.  The first topic will cover adding calibrations…whether your facility will use the ‘standard free’ fundamental parameters or create full calibrations through the empirical software will have already been confirmed and our technician will focus on the preferred approach but provide training on each method if requested.

Once adding calibrations is discussed and practiced, the installing tech will introduce any special features that can help with a users application or throughput.  These will vary based on the system being installed and a clients testing goals.

At this point, the installer will have operators run a few measurements so they can practice sample alignment, selecting calibrations, etc and provide feedback to them.  Then, with measurements complete, the training will focus on how data is handled – reporting through Word/Excel or simply pulling lot numbers, etc.

At the end of the training, the Eastern Applied associate will provide a summary of ‘best practices’ for your specific interests and facility – highlighting the environment, regular XRF maintenance that you can handle, and discussing any required services (certifications) schedule.  They will provide documents on the purchase and certification provided at the start of the day.

You can move forward knowing that Eastern Applied’s service center and field technicians will be available to support your use of x-ray fluorescence – and we appreciate the opportunity.  Feel free to contact Eastern Applied with any questions about the installation services.

New XRay Fluorescence Analyzer

New XRF Analyzer at Installation – Hitachi FT110A