Dr. Robert Möckel
Division of Analytics

Phone: +49 351 260 - 4444

Anne Rahfeld
Division of Analytics

Phone: +49 351 260 - 4484

X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis (XRF)

X-Ray Fluorescence Analysis (XRF) is the principal method for all bulk chemical analyses of rocks at the Helmholtz Institute Freiberg for Resource Technology.

Röntgenfluoreszenzspektroskopie RFA-Gerät AxiosmAX der Firma PANalytical
XRF spectrometer AxiosmAX from PANalytical
Photo: HZDR/ Robert Möckel

Equipment Features

  • XRF spectrometer type: AxiosmAX from PANalytical
  • X-ray source: Rh

Key Features

  • Fast, quantitative measurement of major, minor and trace elements
  • Detection limits from 10 to 200ppm (element and matrix dependent)

Sample Requirements

  • Samples need to be ground (< 63µm, sample preparation can be carried out at our institute)
  • Quantities: approximately 2g for the major element analysis (loss on ignition has to be determined) and approximately 10g for trace element analysis
  • Sample composition should be roughly known to avoid preparation errors (fused vs. pressed tablet)


  • Matrix dependent method
    • Calibration for silica rocks is available
    • Another measuring strategy, which is partly based on the fundamental parameter approach, can be used for very complex matrices

Selected Publications

  • Uhlig, S.; Möckel, R.; Pleßow, A.
    "Quantitative analysis of sulfides and sulfates by WD-XRF: Capability and constraints", X-Ray Spectrometry (2016)
    DOI-Link: 10.1002/xrs.2679

How does it work?

Secondary X-rays are generated by bombarding a flat sample surface with primary high-energy X-ray. The secondary X-rays show the specific energy pattern of all chemical elements present in the sample. They are either determined by the energy itself or by the respective wavelength. Our PANalytical AxiosmAX spectrometer is a wavelength discriminating device, in which certain wavelengths are separated by diffracting crystals (see picture) and associated to a certain element. The concentration of the element of interest can be recalculated from a calibration.

Prinzip der Röntgenfluoreszenzanalyse
X-Ray fluorescence analysis principle
Photo: Brucker AXS S8 Tiger Information Brochure