LIMS Supporting X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF)

X-ray fluorescence analysis (XRF) is well-established as one of the oldest techniques for fast, non-destructive analysis for determining the elemental composition of solid and liquid analytes. Plastics, metals, ceramics, glass, and much more can be analyzed using XRF.

In this article, the focus will be on elements composing metals and their analysis using XRF supported by LIMS (laboratory information management system) software. Two different cases involving a high number of samples and, therefore, the support of LIMS software, will be examined: metals' presence in soil and ancient copper alloys to show the flexibility and reliability of this laboratory software. For this reason, LIMS software is also a practical solution for industrial laboratories in the metallurgical application area working with a big amount of data and samples.

It is important to confirm the XRF procedure. A general explanation of XRF analysis is that the sample used in an XRF analysis is illuminated by gamma rays or x-rays, resulting in core-level electrons excitation to excited states (Simon 2018).

X-ray fluorescence analysis has been developing quickly over the past 15 years, according to Koen (2000). At the end of the Second World War, XRF was introduced into industrial laboratories.

Used as multichannel or sequential, the instruments were first based on an X-ray tube projected for excitation, Bragg reflection for wavelength dispersive spectral analysis, and counting detectors for the measurement of fluorescence X-rays.

This methodology and severe matrix result was a calibration based on sample references of elements with much of the same composition as the unknown one. Application areas included ceramics, metallurgy, polymer industry, and analysis of rocks, minerals, and soils.

In the 1970s, XRF became increasingly versatile and ready for computer-based analyses. Today, this analytical method can determine roughness, density, and layer thickness.

X-ray fluorescence analysis can be also applied to the archeological field, which shows a big amount of data and samples. XRF analysis is ideal for the study of ancient copper alloys as it is rapid, non-destructive, multi-element, highly accurate, and environmentally friendly compared with other elemental detection methods. According to Lutz, since it is a multi-element and non-destructive method, it is possible to analyze a wide range of elements in a short time. The connection of the spectrometer might be, therefore, difficult and LIMS software is an intuitive solution to problems with both device connection and samples and data evaluation.

Another example is the quantitative analysis of metals in soil. As has been established, according to dos Anjos (2000), X-ray fluorescence analysis determines the number of elements present in one analyte.

XRF is also a very accurate and reliable technique. Therefore, the determination and quality of the samples are imperative for the confirmation of metal presence in soil composition.

XRF analysis involves many samples being analyzed, evaluated, and tracked. Using LIMS software, statistical evaluations in the laboratory can be sped up and, at the same time, the quality of the evaluated data can be increased.

XRF is a qualitative and quantitative analysis, meaning that the laboratory processes have to be validated in a revolutionary way. LIMS software provides a reliable and flexible solution, permitting analysis of the alloys' elements to identify their variable composition.  

Mix-ups may result from the large number of samples derived from an XRF analysis. The role of the LIMS software role is to allow technicians to obtain the most reliable results possible by eliminating those potential mistakes.

In conclusion, it can be determined that XRF is an accurate method of analysis when there is a substantial amount of data and samples to track. Therefore, the support of LIMS software in the laboratory is required in order to increase precision, reliability, and cost-effectivity.


This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Fink & Partner GmbH.

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