Practical X-ray Spectrometry (PHYS*7710)

Code and section: PHYS*7710*01

Term: Fall 2020

Instructor: Iain Campbell



To impart a basic knowledge of the underlying physics and the practice of X-ray spectrometry as a means for elemental analysis of materials.


  • Interaction processes of electrons, protons and photons traversing matter; mechanisms of atomic inner-shell vacancy creation; cross-sections for ionizing processes.
  • Physics of atomic inner-shell processes: level widths, linewidths, X-ray and Auger electron emission, fluorescence and Coster-Kronig probabilities, diagram line energies and relative intensities, satellites.
  • Database for quantitative X-ray spectrometric analysis of materials: strengths and weaknesses.
  • Bragg spectroscopy.
  • Energy-dispersive spectroscopy with SDD, Si(Li) and Ge detectors; radiation sources; spectrum features; detector response functions and efficiency; digital versus analog signal processing; spectrum fitting.
  • Elemental analysis by XRF, EPMA and PIXE; matrix effects; quantitation; standards; empirical corrections; fundamental parameters approach ; examples in geology, environmental science, biology, cultural heritage, etc

Reference texts

  • E. Margui, R. Van Grieken (2013) X-ray fluorescence spectrometry and related techniques: an introduction. Available online via U of G Library.
  • S. A. E. Johansson and J. L. Campbell (Wiley 1988). PIXE– a novel technique for elemental analysis. QD 96.X2 J64.
  • S. A. E. Johansson, J. L. Campbell, K. G. Malmqvist, Particle-induced X-ray Emission, Wiley, 1995.
  • Zschornack. Handbook of X-ray Data, Springer, 2007.
  • B. G. Lowe and R. Sareen, Semiconductor X-ray detectors. QC481.5 .L69 2014
  • Glenn F. Knoll, Radiation detection and measurement. QC787.C6 K56 2010

Use may be made of research articles in the refereed literature, e.g. X-Ray Spectrometry (Wiley) and Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms – aka NIM-B (Elsevier) and others where necessary.


This will be accomplished by assigning one or more term project(s). For a given project, the student will research a specific topic in depth and will present a printed report.