Ted Shields, Senior Product Manager for Portable XRF at Olympus, talks to AZoM about their new VANTA XRF Analyzer and the revolutionary technology developed for this system.
The VANTA’s tag line (Rugged, Revolutionary, and Productive) suggests the three key areas you have developed. How have you made the VANTA XRF analyser rugged and why is this important to the industry?
Ruggedness translates directly into lower cost of ownership for the user. Fewer repairs. Less down time. Vanta is a significant advancement in the ruggedness of XRF analysers. It takes extraordinary attention to detail to engineer an instrument that passes a military standard 4 foot drop test, has a dust tight and water resistant IP rating and can run continuously at 50 °C.
On top of that, we have added extra protective measures to the x-ray detector such as a metal shutter to cover the detector when we are not testing and a mesh screen for the C series. Keep in mind, we had to do all of this while still being as sensitive as the industry expects a modern XRF analyser to be.
Could you tell us why the introduction of AxonTM has revolutionized XRF technology and the development of the VANTA analyser?
Axon technology is the name we have given to a series of signal processing improvements that are changing how Olympus approaches XRF. We can count many more x-rays, with better resolution and with better stability than ever before. This means we are not limited by our detector processing speed. As one of our scientists has said, “If you can make the x-rays, we can count them.”
What advantages does the higher X-ray count rates offer users in the field?
It is really straightforward. XRF is a statistical method. So more x-rays means you get a more precise answer, or you get an answer faster. Being able to achieve higher throughput is a huge win for our customers.
How has the ultra-low electrical noise design helped the VANTA system offer breakthrough resolution?
As proud as I am of what the mechanical engineers have done for ruggedness, I am even more impressed with what the electrical engineers have done. Usually as the number of x-rays processed goes up, the resolution deteriorates. This makes it difficult to distinguish between elements. But Axon delivers BOTH increased count rate AND better resolution. So we get remarkable results.
How have you achieved consistent and repeatable results?
We were incredibly detailed about the tolerances of every resistor and capacitor and component. We ran repeated tests and iterated the design until we convinced ourselves that our spectra and results were rock solid. Our customers rely on the results so the results cannot change over time or with changes in the test environment.
How does the AxonTM technology allow the analyser to automatically check the energy scales before each test?
This is a patented (pending) innovation where the analyser checks the energy scale of the detector at the start of each test. Traditionally this is done once at start up. The user is left to hope that there is no drift. We check on every test
., so we know we are getting it right.
What features does the VANTA XRF analyser offer users for increased productivity?
Productivity is enhanced in a number of ways. Some, like count rate and throughput, we have already talked about. Our new software interface makes users more productive too. Of course, swipe and zoom and all the gesturing controls are there like people have on their smartphones. And like smartphone Apps, the user can customise the information and controls that show up on the screen so they get just the information they want. Fleet Management on the PC Software makes it easy to set up several analysers with the same configuration without having to bring up every setting on every analyser. It is just as easy to set up one analyser for several different applications and rapidly and easily switch among them.
What are the next steps in the development process?
There is always more to do with software in order to turn the data we produce into information users can act on. Vanta is Wifi enabled and Cloud capable. We are very eager to provide a Cloud solution for our clients in the future. XRF is very good at creating large data sets. There is a need to manage that data and often the person who is going to do that management is remote. With all the advantages of modern connectivity, Vanta and the Cloud can close that distance.
Where can our readers learn more?
The easiest way is to go to: http://www.olympus-ims.com/en/vanta/
About Ted Shields
Ted Shields is the Senior Product Manager for Portable XRF at Olympus.
He has been at Olympus for over 8 years and has overseen the introduction of numerous innovations to the XRF product lines with a focus on bringing the laboratory quality data to the portable market.
Ted Shields has a Master’s degree in Applied Physics and is the holder of 2 patents.
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