X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectrometry is an elemental analysis technique with broad application in science and industry. XRF is based on the principle that individual atoms, when excited by an external energy source, emit X-ray photons of a characteristic energy or wavelength. Modern XRF instruments are capable of analyzing solid, liquid, and thin-film samples for both major and trace (ppm-level) components. Sample preparation is ususally minimal and the analysis is rapid.
The Archaeometry Laboratory at the MU Research Reactor is the home of four energy dispersive-XRF spectrometers: two handheld Bruker Tracer III-V, one handheld Bruker Tracer 5i, and one Thermo-Quantx ARL benchtop with sample changer. These instruments are used primarily for the provenance research on obsidian artifacts from around the world, but they are also used in special circumstances for the non-destructive analysis of other materials such as metals, ceramic paints, and soils.