2020 atomic spectrometry update – a review of advances in X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and its special applications
The XRF-CT technique continues to gain attention with respect to both its development and applications. The emergence of fast scanning approaches in conjunction with ED-detectors of high counting rate capability has allowed XRF-CT to evolve towards a truly 3D elemental imaging technique. At SR sources, the technique is regularly applied at sub-μm resolution together with complementary imaging modalities such as absorption and phase-contrast CT, XRD-CT, 2D/3D XAS and ptychography. The TXRF spectrometric analysis of suspensions and undigested samples (e.g. clay, cosmetics and nanoparticles) continues to receive much attention. In the analysis of fly ash samples, elemental sensitivities were affected by the angle of the measurement. In the use of TXRF spectrometry for the analysis of particle-like large specimens, the influence of the standing wave field was considered to be negligible. However, more work needs to be done on this source of uncertainty to improve our understanding of the influence of the standing wave field on these kind of samples. Novel equipment capable of very good angle resolution will be useful for such studies. Pre-concentration procedures are becoming more sophisticated with the introduction of new substrates for ligands capable of binding heavy metals and, in some cases, of being applied directly on the TXRF spectrometry reflector for immediate analysis. A sophisticated explanation of the excitation spectrum reported for μ-XRF spectrometry included a new description of the energy distribution of electrons in the target. Another highlight was the application of high-resolution monochromatic μ-XRF spectrometry using DCC optics for excitation and focusing as well as for increasing the spectral resolution of the Pu and U L-lines. Although the use of portable XRF spectrometry systems is now well established, new dedicated systems continue to be developed including those with a triaxial configuration. The focus is now primarily on the development and use of portable TXRF spectrometry systems for an expanding range of applications. In the area of cultural heritage applications, macroXRF spectrometry is a well-established imaging technique for the analysis of paintings that is now also being used to image stained-glass panels. The extensive study using a number of micro- and macro-techniques of Vermeer’s painting of The Girl with a Pearl Earring illustrated the power of this approach. Not only could the different shades of blue in the painting be characterised but also the materials and techniques used to achieve various effects in the painting.