Expanded ED-XRF: counterfeit verification and contamination analysis

To many that know of Energy Dispersive X-Ray Fluorescence (ED-XRF) technology, the analyzers are simply thought of as a tool used for measuring coating thickness in production quality control.  While that was the main function since the early 1980’s, the technology has made great strides in just the last five years and has become much more versatile than it was – ED-XRF technology is now utilized in laboratory grade analytical instrumentation.

Vortex XRF Detection System

Hi-Resolution XRF Detector

One component that has been critical to the expanded application of XRF is the detector technology used.  Implementation of Silicon Drift Detectors (SDD) has raised the analytical performance bar – allowing for more sophisticated analytical testing than ever before.  XRF manufacturers have upgraded their existing analyzers with SDD technology, or created new models featuring it, that are prepared to meet the Elemental Identification needs that now exist.

Counterfeit Inspection and Contaminant Analysis are great examples of laboratory use of x-ray fluorescence. Using very precise stage systems, an XRF spectrometer can move a sample and “map” its structure.  A variety of information can be obtained about the sample structure and its internal components by comparing mapped images of elements obtained by sample penetrating x-rays.

Using this approach, a laboratory can quickly, and non-destructively, identify internal manufacturing differences that would indicate a potential counterfeit by comparing that samples mapping to the mapping of a known good sample.

In the same manner contaminants can be detected in the range of tens of micro-meters while scanning an entire sample surface.  A samples optical image is placed over the element mapping of the same sample and colors are assigned to different elements.  This allows an operator to quickly identify the contaminant material and see its location.  Even resin can be detected in organic material using these new silicon drift detectors (SDD) along with the correct motorized stage and software combination.

Hitachi XRF Mapping Functions

See through mapping of Hitachi EA6000VX XRF

Here we have taken a picture of a computer mouse (“optical image”) and mapped it for lead (Pb), tin (Sn), and bromine (Br).  This is a simple example of how we can apply advancements in XRF technology for RoHS screening or detection of counterfeit components (this example was performed on a Hitachi EA6000VX).

One major benefit of using x-ray fluorescence in these types of analysis is that it is a non-destructive method to quickly screen product.  Contact Eastern Applied Research for a discussion if you believe your laboratory can benefit from the benefits of energy dispersive x-ray fluorescence.

Additional Reading: PDF Download on Mapping Functions


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