The analysis of the elemental composition of aerosol particles by non-destructive grazing incidence X-ray fluorescence analysis (GIXRF) is possible if the particles are deposited on a flat substrate. If those particles exhibit surface areas parallel to the substrate surface, under certain experimental conditions, total reflection of incident X-rays might arise also at those sites thereby preventing X-rays from penetrating the particles. For a reliable quantitative analysis, this effect and the interaction with the X-ray standing wave field (XSW) has to be further investigated in detail. To study the effects occurring when nanoscaled objects are probed with GIXRF, artificial nanostructures of known size, shape and composition have been manufactured on flat silicon wafer surfaces, with the intention to simulate deposited nanoscaled aerosol particles. A reference-free quantification of the deposited mass was performed employing a simple model for the propagation of the XSW through the sample material. Depending on the quality of the manufactured structures, good agreement between nominal masses and measured values could be stated. Only moderate agreement was found for samples that were more difficult to manufacture. GIXRF measurements yield information on the physical dimensions of the structures which are well in line with results obtained by a combination of scanning electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectrometry (SEM/EDX). The presented quantification model, which is based on existing software for XSW calculations, can be transferred to environmental nanoparticles sampled directly from the aerosol phase. All measurements were performed in the laboratory of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) at BESSY II using well-characterized monochromatic synchrotron radiation and calibrated instrumentation.
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