Malvern Panalytical Scientific Award 2023

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XRF, NIR and FTIR: Your Complete Mining Solution

In the high-stakes world of Australian mining, accurate and reliable analysis is the bedrock of success.

With evolving technologies, the mining industry has seen a remarkable shift towards non-destructive, portable analysis tools that promise to revolutionise the way you explore, extract and analyse valuable resources.

This article delves into the importance of robust analytical solutions and explores the three most popular and effective technologies: XRF, NIR and FTIR.

What Are The Best Mining Analysis Technologies?

Both greenfield and brownfield mining operations demand precise insights into elemental composition and mineral content.

Robust, portable and non-destructive analysis technologies like XRF, NIR and FTIR empower your team with real-time data that informs critical decisions on-site.

But rather than thinking about them as competing technologies, think of them as complementary.

Each technology is better suited for different applications, so instead of asking which one is better, ask whether XRF, NIR or FTIR are more suited to your needs.

1. X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF)

What is XRF?

X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) is a non-destructive analytical technique to determine the elemental composition of materials, making it ideal for elemental analysis. Handheld XRF or Portable XRF (PXRF) is now widely used across the mining industry for real-time, in-field mining analysis.

How does XRF work?

XRF analysers determine the chemistry of a sample by measuring the fluorescent or secondary X-ray emitted when excited by a primary X-ray source.

Every element present in a sample produces a unique set of characteristic fluorescent X-rays (also called a “fingerprint”), which is why XRF spectroscopy is often used for qualitative and quantitative analysis of material composition.

Learn more about XRF.

2. Near-Infrared (NIR)

What is NIR Spectroscopy?

Near-Infrared Spectroscopy is an accurate, reliable, rapid and non-destructive analysis method that requires no sample preparation. NIR is one of the most used procedures as it is both efficient and has a wide range of applications across mining, medicine, agriculture and many other industries.

How does NIR work?

NIR Spectroscopy instruments detect the molecular overtone and combination variations of the specific wavelengths of NIR light absorbed by specific organic molecules.

NIR is best used for mineral analysis in the near-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum (from about 350 nm to 2500 nm) to identify compounds and materials.

Learn more about NIR.

3. Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR)

What is FTIR Spectroscopy?

FTIR is named for its use of the Fourier transform mathematical process. It is a versatile extension of existing Infrared techniques that provides fast, accurate results in a unique spectral range. This makes it especially complementary when paired with NIR. FTIR is ideal for mineral analysis in the mid-infrared region (4000-400 cm-1).

How does FTIR work?

FTIR uses the mathematical transform called the Fourier Transform, which decomposes functions depending on space or time into functions depending on spatial or temporal frequency. FTIR technology converts raw data into an infrared spectrum of absorption or emission of a solid, liquid or gas.

Learn more about FTIR

The Complete Solution: a Combination of XRF, NIR and FTIR

While each technology shines in its specific domain, the ultimate solution for comprehensive mining analysis is to harness the power of all three.

Together, XRF, NIR and FTIR technologies provide an unrivalled spectral range, covering elemental, mineral, and molecular analyses. This synergy guarantees that your team is equipped with the most versatile toolkit in the industry, adaptable to the evolving demands of mining exploration and processing.

The Leading Analysis Tools for XRF, NIR and FTIR

XRF: The Niton XL5 Plus Handheld XRF Analyser

The XL5 Plus allows the X-ray source and fluorescence detector to be closer to the sample, improving the limits of detection and shortening measurement time, especially for light elements and rare earth elements (REE).

The Niton XL5 Plus is a compact, lightweight handheld XRF analyser built for the most demanding analytical applications that efficiently measures the elemental composition of all metals, scale, sludge, oil, powders and slurries and other geochemical applications.

Learn more: Niton XL5 Plus Handheld XRF Analyser

NIR: The ASD TerraSpec 4 NIR Spectrometer

The TerraSpec 4 is trusted by top geologists for performing fast, precise geological exploration, using full-range near-infrared technology.

With enhanced optics providing even higher-quality spectral results, the improved data quality of the TerraSpec analyser allows for accurate assessment of low-concentration and low-reflectance minerals.

Learn more: ASD TerraSpec 4 NIR Spectrometer

FTIR: The Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR

The Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR spectrometer offers an unrivalled combination of convenience, portability, ruggedness and versatility. It is light enough (just 2 kg) for easy transport, yet sturdy enough to handle challenging conditions.

With high-performance optics, hardware design and an excellent user experience, the Agilent 4300 is the perfect tool for on-the-spot non-destructive testing in any environment.

Learn more: Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR

Purchase Your Complete Mining Solution Today

Ensuring your team has the right mining tools is the most important step toward ensuring effective mining analysis. Without it, significant time, resources, and reputation will be exhausted.

By incorporating the XL5 Plus for elemental analysis, the TerraSpec for mineral analysis in the near-infrared region and the Agilent 4300 for mid-infrared mineral analysis, you gain a comprehensive solution that ensures you’re ready for any challenge in the field.

Get in touch with our experienced team at Portable Analytical Solutions today to purchase any or all of these devices as a complete set of complementary mining analysis tools.

Getting Transparent About Root Phenotyping

Plant phenotyping is a vital aspect of agricultural research and crop management.

It involves the comprehensive study of plant traits and their responses to environmental conditions. Among these traits, root phenotyping stands out as a critical area of focus.

This is especially true for regions like Australia where drought conditions pose significant challenges to crops. The ability of roots to efficiently find and absorb water is paramount in these environments.

In this post, we will explore the importance of accurate and efficient root analysis during the plant phenotyping process, with a special emphasis on Australia’s drought conditions. We will also delve into the current challenges faced in root analysis and how the PhenoAIxpert can revolutionise root phenotyping.

Why is Plant Phenotyping Important?

In Australia’s drought-prone climate, root phenotyping is vital. It helps researchers and farmers understand how plants adapt by assessing root growth and water absorption.

This plays a crucial role in improving crop yields by identifying plants with efficient water-extraction root systems. In this way, accurate root analysis is essential to the agricultural sustainability of these harsh regions.

Challenges Associated with Root Analysis

Vital as it may be, analysing roots can be the cause of many challenges, and these are compounded when trying to perform particularly precise phenotyping. Some of these challenges include:

1. Lack of visibility

Roots are hidden beneath the soil and are difficult to observe directly. Traditional methods of root analysis often require uprooting plants, which not only disrupts the growing process but can also lead to the loss of important data.

2. Sample Destruction

Another issue with digging up plants to analyse their roots is that this will often damage, if not ruin the sample, making it impossible to track changes over time and tainting the accuracy of your results.

3. Hefty Cleaning

Samples preparation can be a time-consuming process as it requires careful cleaning to remove soil and debris without damaging the roots. The traditional methods for root analysis are not only labour-intensive but also lack the ability to perform non-destructive, real-time assessments.

This is where innovative technologies like the Lemnatec™ PhenoAIxpert come into play.

Introducing the PhenoAIxpert

Getting Transparent About Root Phenotyping 3

The PhenoAIxpert represents a remarkable advancement in root phenotyping technology, largely thanks to its innovative use of transparent containers. By seamlessly integrating advanced image processing techniques with these containers, it offers a host of benefits that revolutionise the root analysis process.

The Use and Benefits of Transparent Containers

Root Samples in Real Time

By utilising transparent containers, researchers can observe and study root growth in real time without disturbing the plant. This non-invasive analysis method ensures that a plant’s natural development isn’t accidentally affected by the analysis process.

This allows for a more accurate understanding of how it responds to changing conditions. To this end, the transparency of these containers is a critical factor in the PhenoAIxpert’s success.

Capture High-Resolution Images

It also enables researchers to capture high-resolution images of the roots in question.

These images offer precise data on:

  • root length
  • volume
  • branching patterns
  • root health
  • ability to seek water*

*This level of detail is essential for researchers seeking to comprehensively understand how plants adapt to their environment, particularly in regions like Australia, where water availability is a matter of survival for crops.

The Features and Benefits of the PhenoAIxpert

1. Advanced Image Processing

The PhenoAIxpert uses state-of-the-art image processing algorithms to extract valuable data. These algorithms can analyse root length, volume, branching patterns, and other health indicators.

2. Real-Time Monitoring

With the PhenoAIxpert, researchers can continuously monitor root growth and development. This feature is particularly beneficial for assessing the impact of water availability on root systems over time.

3. User-Friendly Interface

The PhenoAIxpert has been designed with usability and user experience in mind. Its easy-to-use interface allows both researchers and farmers to access and interpret data easily, making it a versatile tool for a wide variety of industrial and academic applications.

4. Customisation

The modern PhenoAlxpert system can be moulded to suit specific research needs and plant varieties. This adaptability ensures that researchers and farmers can collect the most relevant data for their specific applications.

Get in Touch Today to Purchase a PhenoAIxpert

Ensuring your team has the right tools is the most important step toward ensuring effective plant analysis. Without it, significant time and resources will be exhausted.

To ensure that your team, no matter the industry, can reap the rewards of root phenotyping in an increasingly competitive market, you need to acquire the PhenoAlxpert

Get in touch with the experienced team at Portable Analytical Solutions today to purchase a PhenoAlxpert for fast root phenotype analysis.

Portable FTIR Analysis: Revolutionising Industries with the Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR

In the evolving landscape of analytical solutions, one technology has emerged as a true game-changer.

Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) analysis, a form of infrared spectroscopy, has taken a wide range of scientific and industrial sectors by storm, offering a portable and versatile solution for a wide range of analytical applications.

In this article, we delve into the world of portable FTIR analysis, including a detailed analysis of its features, how it can be of benefit to a wide variety of industries and a specific dissection of the flagship FTIR device, the Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR.

What is FTIR and Why is it Transforming Industries?

Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) analysis allows scientists, researchers, and industry professionals to analyse a wide variety of solid, liquid and gas materials with exceptional precision. This technique capitalises on the interaction between molecules and infrared light to provide in-depth insights into molecular structures, chemical compositions, and material properties.

Unlike traditional methods, FTIR offers a non-destructive and rapid means of analysis, rendering it a revolutionary and indispensable tool across a wide range of industries.

Differences Between FTIR and NIR

Distinguishable from FTIR, Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) is another non-destructive analytical technique that identifies the molecular composition of a sample.

Given NIR is already well-known, you may be wondering why FTIR is necessary and how the two methods differ.

The main difference between NIR and FTIR is the spectral range they use for analysis. Whilst NIR uses light in the near-infrared region (approximately 350-2500 nm), FTIR uses light in the mid-infrared region (approximately 4000-400 cm^-1).

This means that FTIR delves deeper into fundamental vibrations of material, resulting in enhanced accuracy and sensitivity. FTIR’s broader spectral range allows it to identify a wider array of functional groups, making it an ideal choice for more complex sample analysis.

While FTIR is particularly adept at identifying unknown compounds and identifying intricate molecular structures, it’s best used as a complement to NIR technology which can analyse compounds from a different perspective.

Introducing the Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR: Redefining Portability and Performance

At the forefront of portable FTIR technology is the Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR, the pinnacle of analytical instrumentation.

Portable Analytical Solutions (PAS) proudly partners with Agilent to offer this revolutionary device to industries seeking rapid, on-site material analysis. The Agilent 4300 leverages advanced FTIR capabilities in a portable form, enabling users to undertake spectroscopic analysis directly at the site of the sample, eliminating the need for transportation and laboratory-based testing.

Benefits of the Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR

The Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR offers a wide array of unique benefits that are redefining the landscape of on-site analysis:

Portability and Convenience

Weighing only approximately two kilograms, the Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR is a truly portable solution, enabling real-time analysis in remote locations and field sites.

Fast Results

The Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR provides rapid and accurate results, reducing analysis time from hours to seconds, in the pursuit of faster decision-making and process optimisation.


Applicable to mining, environmental science, agriculture, scrap sorting, and defence sectors, the Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR’s versatility enables users to address a wide range of analytical tasks with a single device. It can also analyse solids, liquids and gases, saving you the hassle of switching devices for different types of samples.

Reduced Costs

By eliminating the need for laboratory analysis and transportation, the Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR not only saves time but also significantly reduces operational costs.

FTIR’s Impact Across Diverse Industries

The versatility of FTIR analysis extends beyond its features and includes its application to a multitude of industries. Thanks to the Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR, a portable solution, this is increasingly the case.


FTIR analysis assists in the identification of minerals, ores, and exploration of geological formations, enhancing efficiency and resource optimisation across multiple areas inside the wide scope of the mining industry.

Environmental Science

Environmental monitoring, pollution analysis, and soil quality assessment each benefit from FTIR’s ability to detect contaminants and quantify highly complex pollutant concentrations.


When it comes to agriculture, FTIR helps optimise crop yields by analysing soil composition, detecting nutrient deficiencies, and ensuring the quality of agricultural products. It serves as an important and informative precursor to many ongoing agri-business and agriculture decisions.

Scrap Sorting

In the field of recycling and waste management, FTIR technology identifies polymers and materials to assist the public sector and associated organisations in facilitating effective sorting and recycling processes.


FTIR plays a critical role in identifying hazardous materials, explosives, and chemical agents, aiding security personnel in their mission to ensure public safety.

Detailed Features of the Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR

The Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR boasts an array of features that elevate its performance:

A User-Friendly Interface

The intuitive interface of the Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR simplifies operations, making it accessible to both novice and experienced users.

Battery-Powered Operation

The device’s swappable 4-hour battery allows for extended field use, enabling relatively uninterrupted analysis even in remote locations.

Real-Time Data Analysis

The Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR assist in real-time on operations, and its near-instant data analysis empowers users to make informed decisions in the field.

Rugged Design

The Agilent 4300 is engineered for durability, with a rugged exterior capable of withstanding demanding environments, as it to be expected from a portable device that thrives in outdoor industries such as mining and agriculture.

Purchase an Agilent 4300 Analyser Today

Ensuring your team has the right tools is the most important step toward ensuring effective material analysis. Without it, significant time, resources, and reputation will be exhausted.

To ensure that your team, no matter the industry, can reap the rewards of material analysis in an increasingly competitive market, you need to acquire the Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR.

Get in touch with our experienced team at Portable Analytical Solutions today to purchase a new Agilent 4300 handheld FTIR for fast and portable compound analysis.

Prospecting with Precision: How Rare Earth Element Detection Enhances Mining Exploration

Mining exploration plays an important role in the Australian mining industry, particularly when it comes to Rare Earth Element (REE) detection. These valuable resources are in high demand due to their extensive applications in various industries, however, locating REE deposits can be a challenging task without the right tools and technology.

Fortunately, there is a game-changing solution: the Niton XL5 Plus Analyser.

In this article, we will delve into the significance of REEs, the process of exploratory mining, and how the accurate and fast analysis provided by the Niton XL5 Plus can significantly improve the search for these valuable elements.

What are Rare Earth Elements?

Rare Earth Elements are a group of 17 chemically similar elements found in the Earth’s crust. They encompass lanthanides such as cerium, europium, and lanthanum, along with two additional elements: scandium and yttrium. Despite their name, REEs are not actually particularly rare, but are instead dispersed in low concentrations throughout various minerals.

Why are Rare Earth Elements Sought After?

REEs have become increasingly sought after due to their major role in modern technology manufacturing.

These elements are essential to produce high performance:

  • Magnets
  • Catalysts
  • Lasers
  • Batteries

That’s why they are so crucial for increasingly popular renewable energy systems, including electric vehicles, telecommunications products, and defence technologies. As industries transition towards sustainable practices, the demand for REEs continues to rise.

What is Exploratory Mining?

Also referred to as Greenfield mining, exploratory mining plays a crucial role in locating and then extracting REEs.

Considering REEs are not typically found in large deposits, locating them is a complex process. Exploratory mining involves searching for trace amounts, otherwise known as “pathfinders” that indicate the presence of REEs in the earth’s core. Identifying these pathfinders accurately can significantly improve the success rate of mining operations.

The Benefits of Accurate and Fast Analysis

The benefits of accurate and fast REE analysis are plentiful.

Informed Decisions

Firstly, it allows mining companies to make precise and informed decisions, minimising the risk of drilling in the wrong locations and maximising the chances of discovering valuable REE deposits. This efficiency translates into significant cost savings, as resources are not wasted on unproductive sites.

Faster Operations

Moreover, faster mining exploration accelerates the timeline for potential mining operations. By leveraging advanced technology and improving the speed of their exploratory operations, mining teams can gain a competitive edge, establish their expertise in REE exploration, and attract lucrative partnerships and investments.

Effective Rare Earth Element detection is particularly valuable and makes for a fantastic commercial opportunity in a world that is increasingly interested in renewable energy sources and other technological and telecommunications products.

The Consequences of Exploring Without the Right Tools

On the other hand, conducting REE exploration without the right tools and therefore without fast analysis can have severe consequences for Australian mining companies.

Inaccurate Analysis

Inaccurate readings and unreliable data can lead to costly drilling in non-productive areas, wasting valuable time, money, and resources for the teams involved.

Reputation Damage

Additionally, a lack of precise analysis can damage a company’s reputation, hampering potential partnerships and investment opportunities long into the future. The absence of accurate tools also increases the likelihood of missed REE deposits, limiting the company’s growth potential, competitive advantage and over a long enough period their bottom line as well.

Slower Operations

Finally, the delayed identification of pathfinders and therefore REEs will prolong the lucrative exploration phase, resulting in slower project development and potentially lost market opportunities – after all, exploration is a necessary precursor to extraction.

Therefore, investing in the right Rare Earth Element detection tools is crucial to mitigate these detrimental consequences and ensure successful Rare Earth Element detection.

The Solution: The Niton XL5 Plus Analyser

Enter the Niton XL5 Plus Analyser.

With the right calibration, this XRF device is the standout, premium solution for Rare Earth Element detection.

This exceptional device offers exceptional performance, detection limits, and speed required in exploratory mining and drilling operations to ensure fast and reliable results.

With optimised mining calibration for 47 elements, including the REEs you need, the Niton XL5 Plus Analyser accurately detects pathfinders and essential elements like lithium, tantalum, cesium, and more.

In addition to its remarkable capabilities, the XL5 Plus offers a range of excellent accessories, including:

  • Vivid navigation; customisable user profiles
  • Micro and macro cameras
  • Advanced analytical performance
  • Lightweight ergonomic design
  • Smaller, faster, lighter
  • Segment leading light element performance
  • Customisable for individual applications
  • Accessories built for the industry
  • Backed by local support, knowledge and service
  • Large, installed customer database

Do you already own an older Niton device?

As well as supplying new models, PAS provides upgrade options to access the time and money-saving benefits of the XL5 Plus. With shorter lead times for new devices, calibrations, and servicing, PAS ensures that mining teams can maximise the device’s potential in the field promptly, safely and reliably.

Are you looking to maximise your Exploratory Mining Capabilities?

Ensuring your mining team has the right tools is the most important step toward ensuring effective Rare Earth Element detection. Without it, significant time, resources and reputation will be exhausted.

To guarantee your mining team is able to reap the rewards of Rare Earth Elements in an increasingly competitive market, you need to acquire the Niton XL5 Plus Analyser, or at least recalibrate your existing one to improve its accuracy.

Get in touch with the experienced team at Portable Analytical Solutions today to purchase a new XL5 Plus and get a free calibration, or to get your existing XL5 calibrated for fast and reliable Rare Earth Element detection.

Case Study: Screening for Asbestos in Tuvalu with the MicroPHAZIR AS

Case Study: Screening for Asbestos in Tuvalu with the MicroPHAZIR AS

The health risks of asbestos are well known, so much so that its use was officially banned in Australia in 2003.

Since then, extensive work has been conducted to remove asbestos where possible or to educate people on how to leave asbestos undisturbed. 

Unfortunately, its widespread presence in buildings and objects make it difficult to identify and avoid. 

The problem is, many smaller nations don’t have the resources or best-practice awareness that Australia has, and these nations remain vulnerable to the scourge of asbestos.

Asbestos on Tuvalu

Tuvalu is a Polynesian archipelago nation in the Pacific, about halfway between Australia and Hawaii. Like many other island nations, asbestos was used widely throughout the country’s infrastructure in the 20th Century and remains a risk for its citizens today. 

The Tuvalu Department of Waste Management (DWM) has been working tirelessly to identify, secure or remove asbestos throughout Tuvalu’s nine islands, but they are facing significant challenges. 

Lack of Labs

Tuvalu doesn’t have the laboratories required to test the large number of asbestos samples taken during clean-up efforts. This means the DWM is constantly being held up by lengthy lab turnaround times.

While these delays are necessary to keep their operators safe, they are still incredibly frustrating and slow down progress. 

Lack of Experts

The other resource shortage in Tuvalu is experts who can safely identify and dispose of asbestos. 

The Tuvalu island chain is relatively isolated and it can be difficult and costly to get experts to visit. That means when they do have them, they need to make the most of it!

A Possible Solution

PacWaste Plus programme technical offers, supported by consultant Ms Samantha O’Callaghan of HIBBs, visited Tuvalu on an asbestos identification mission in March.

What was different this time?

They were trialling a Thermo Fisher microPHAZIR AS Asbestos Analyser.

The Thermo Fisher MicroPHAZIR AS

The MicroPHAZAER AS is an industry-leading asbestos detection tool. With its simple point-and-shoot function, and accurate results delivered in just 10 seconds, it lets operators test for asbestos quickly and safely. . 

To screen a site, operators simply conduct a series of scans at different points, and if the results are negative they can declare an area safe. 

If the results are positive, they can send the sample away for lab confirmation, safe in the knowledge that they haven’t been exposed by needing to take a sample and disturb the contaminated object. 

Screening in Tuvalu

Man using a MicroPHAZIR device to scan a sample

The rapid testing ability of the microPHAZIR AS could make a real impact for the DWM’s initiative. 

“Undertaking asbestos assessments is very difficult in Tuvalu.  We do not have laboratory equipment and it is difficult and expensive for external specialists to visit our outer islands to complete assessments,” said Mr Epu Falenga, Director of Waste Management.

With the microPHAZIR AS, the hope is that much wider areas can be covered in a much shorter time period. 

“By testing this new technology and having our own staff experience the various steps to effectively undertake asbestos sampling, empowers us to roll out an assessment ourselves across our nine islands.” Mr Falenga continued. 

The Trial

Conference with people discussing the MicroPHAZIR device

While hopes are high that the microPHAZIR AS will be effective, testing must be completed to ensure it is compatible with Tuvalu’s conditions. 

“We need to be certain on the efficacy of this tool, especially in our island settings.” said Mr Falenga. 

As part of the trial, Ms O’Callaghan took samples determined to be ‘positive’ for asbestos and sent them to Australia for laboratory confirmation. A capacity building workshop was also conducted with the DWM team, as well as ten other government stakeholders from the Department of Customs and Department of Surveying.

The hope is that the sample determinations will be corroborated in the lab, and that the combined team in Tuvalu will already have the skills required to operate their devices. 

To Be Continued

The cause to rid Tuvalu of asbestos is a noble one, and the outcome of this trial will be relevant for the wider Pacific Island region.

For the operators at DWM, any developments that make asbestos detection safer, faster and more accurate will be welcome.

Images and information obtained from

A Tale of Two Spectra: The Difference Between NIR and FTIR

Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) and Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) are two molecular analysis technologies that are used in a wide range of industries – especially mining.

While NIR is a well-known and well-established technology, FTIR is often considered the new kid on the block, and you may not know much about it.

So, which one is the best for your needs?

Read on to learn the difference between NIR and FTIR.

What is NIR?

Near-Infrared Spectroscopy (NIR) is a non-destructive analytical technique that identifies the molecular composition of a sample.

When the light in the near-infrared region is applied to the sample, the amount of light absorbed or reflected at different wavelengths can be measured. This can be used to identify the presence and abundance of different elements.

What is FTIR?

Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR) is also a technique used to identify and analyse the molecular structure of a material.

Unlike NIR, FTIR applies fully infrared light to the sample and measures how much light is absorbed in different wavelengths. Using the Fourier Transform method, it can analyse the entire spectra simultaneously, improving the speed and scalability of its analysis.

What’s the Difference Between NIR and FTIR?

The main difference between NIR and FTIR is the spectral range they use for analysis. NIR uses light in the near-infrared region (approximately 350-2500 nm), while FTIR uses light in the mid-infrared region (approximately 4000-400 cm^-1).

This difference in wavelength range affects the types of samples that can be analysed. This means NIR and FTIR aren’t like-for-like substitutes, but are instead complementary.

Benefits of NIR

NIR is best used for testing a larger sample size, where compositions aren’t exceedingly complex. This makes NIR a preferred method for quantitative analysis, where the aim is to idenitfy the main components of a sample range quickly.

NIR is also able to analyse all three states of matter: solids, liquids and gases. This means along with identifying the composition of a sample, it can also detect the moisture content and air pockets which can effect what the sample is worth and how it may need to be processed.

It’s ability to analyse wide ranges of samples across different states of matter makes it ideally suited to greenfield mining exploration.

Benefits of FTIR

The biggest strength of FTIR is it can assess an impressively wide spectra which lets it identify trace elements like chemicals and other contaminants.

Along with trace elements, it can also provide far more detailed breakdowns of sample composition because it can examine the entire spectra simultaneously, rather than having to examine individual wavelengths.

The ability to assess the composition of samples to such a precise level opens up a lot of opportunities in the mining industry. Not only does it shed more light on the true value of a sample, it can also reveal the transformation history of the minerals in the area.

The other benefit of FTIR is the speed of its analysis. The Fourier Transform method means the entire spectrum is analysed as a whole, saving time from having to measure singular wavelengths.

NIR vs FTIR: Which is Better?

In this case, it isn’t ‘which is better’, but rather which do you need? Either NIR or FTIR could be more suitable depending on the application.

For analysis of larger sample sizes, NIR is likely to be more suitable. However, for a more in-depth breakdown of sample composition, FTIR may be your preferred solution.

The TerraSpec 4 Analytical Spectral Device

A Tale of Two Spectra: The Difference Between NIR and FTIR 6

The TerraSpec 4 Analytical Spectral Device is a portable, full-range NIR spectrometer.

It delivers highly accurate results in mere seconds, all without damaging the sample. Highly regarded among top geologists worldwide, its ease of use and rugged reliability means your operators will have the ability to take accurate readings in the field.

It also comes with several incredible features, including:

  • High-res and standard-res options
  • Non-destructive, reliable analysis
  • Portable and built for endurance
  • Unparalleled alteration mineral analysis
  • Rapid key mineral identification

For rapid NIR results, you can’t go wrong with a TerraSpec 4!

The Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR Analyser

agilent 4300 handheld ftir

The Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR Analyser is the first of its kind and has quickly become the leading handheld FTIR device on the market. With its easy point-and-shoot functionality and lightweight (only 2 kgs) design, it really is the premier option for FTIR analysis in the field.

One of the most time-consuming tasks in any analysis process is the wait for laboratory results. However, with the Agilent 4300, you can obtain instant results in the field, allowing for faster progress.

This instrument also offers an interchangeable interface, making it easy to switch between analysing different materials, such as changing from analysing a polymer sample to analysing a soil sample. Additionally, the Agilent 4300 can analyse solids, liquids, and gases, making it highly versatile.

Portable Analytical Solutions

To put it simply, portable analysis devices are the best way to gather highly accurate data when in the field or on the move.

Portable Analytical Solutions supplies various NIR and FTIR analysis devices for a range of industries across Australia and New Zealand.

To purchase your own ASD TerraSpec 4 or Agilent 4300, don’t hesitate to get in contact today.

A Guide to Portable XRF Geochemistry in Mining

Geochemistry analysis is an incredibly important part of the mining industry. It is relevant to every stage of a mine’s life cycle and needs to be fast and accurate enough to avoid costly delays.

Portable XRF geochemistry analysers are the solution and are making mines more profitable all across Australia. So read on to learn how these incredible devices are applied to mining.

What is XRF?

X-ray Fluorescence Spectroscopy (XRF) is a non-invasive method for measuring the elemental composition of materials.

It uses a spectrometer to detect and measure X-Rays emitted by the atoms of a sample that has been irradiated. Depending on the element, the intensity of the fluorescent radiation it emits will change, allowing it to be identified.

What is Portable XRF Geochemistry?

Portable XRF geochemistry uses the same technology as regular XRF, except it’s calibrated to a specific range of elements. For example, geochemistry is most often applied to mining industries, so these portable XRF devices will be calibrated to detect both the desired elements and also commonly occurring contaminants.

How does Portable XRF Geochemistry Work?

To use portable XRF analysers in the field, a small portion of the sample is placed in the analyser’s sample chamber. The instrument then fires X-Rays at the sample. The device will then measure the resulting energy of the emitted radiation. For the final stage, the analyser then processes this information and compiles a composition report.

This gives the operator insight into several things, including:

  • The composition of the sample
  • The concentration of the elements they are looking for
  • The concentration of undesirable elements
  • The presence of any contaminants

The speed and accuracy of portable XRF geochemistry make testing in the field simple and effective. That’s why it has become one of the most popular and useful analysis methods in the mining industry.

How is Portable XRF Geochemistry Used in Mining?

Portable XRF geochemistry is applicable to all stages of the mining process.


The initial phase of mining is either greenfield or brownfield exploration. XRF is especially useful at this stage because surveyors need to be able to take samples in the field and on the move. Because of its rapid results, samples can be taken over multiple days without costly interruptions waiting for lab results.

Resource Estimation

Once exploration has detected the presence of the desired minerals, the site needs to be assessed. Starting a new mine is an enormous financial undertaking so sites need to be rich enough to be worth the investment.

Using portable XRF geochemistry, testing the composition of samples over a wider area will reveal whether the site is worth pursuing.

Ore Processing

While ore is being mined, it is important to know the composition to determine how best to process it. Portable XRF geochemistry is so fast and accurate that mining companies can react quickly if the composition of the ore demands a different process.

Environmental Compliance

Mining companies must abide by strict environmental compliance legislation, especially regarding pollutants and contaminants.

Portable XRF geochemistry is an effective tool for testing soil and water samples to assess the risk of run-off which could risk breaching the rules.

The Ultimate Portable XRF Geochemistry Device

A Guide to Portable XRF Geochemistry in Mining 8

The Niton XL5 Plus Handheld Analyser is the leading XRF device for the mining industry.

It can detect geochemical data for elements and minerals, as well as identifying pure metals and alloys. For mining specifically, mining mode can be utilised to limit the detection range between Mg and U to target certain geochemical materials.

Aside from its impressive detection abilities, the Niton XL5 Plus has additional features that make it incredibly intuitive to use. These include:

  • Customisable for individual applications
  • Vivid navigation and custom user profiles
  • Micro and Macro cameras
  • Lightweight, ergonomic design
  • Installed customer database

Solve all your mining analysis needs with one device – the Niton XL5 Plus Handheld Analyser!

Portable Analytical Solutions

Portable Analytical Solutions (PAS) is the leading distributor of Niton devices in Australia.

In particular, the Niton XL5 Plus is incredibly popular. As Australia’s mining industry continues to boom, so does demand for the premier portable XRF geochemical analyser.

If you’d like to purchase or rent your own XL5 Plus, PAS has you covered. Simply get in touch today.

Custom Calibrations

PAS also offers custom calibrations for the XL5 Plus. Make analysis even easier with a calibrated detection range that suits your needs. If you already own an XL5 Plus, we can still calibrate it for you. Contact us if you’d like to discuss your custom calibration options.

On a Whole New Wavelength: What is FTIR and How Does it Work?

On A Whole New Wavelength: What Is FTIR And How Does It Work?

Meet the new kid on the spectroscopy block – FTIR.

Whether you work with polymers, minerals, environmental science or even historical artefacts, FTIR can be applied to transform your analysis capabilities.

Read on to learn what FTIR is and how it works!

What is FTIR?

FTIR, or Fourier Transform Infrared is a form of spectroscopy that utilises infrared light to identify the chemical composition of a sample. Unlike other forms of infrared spectroscopy, FTIR analyses the entire spectrum of light at once, rather than individually.

How Does FTIR Work?

FTIR analyses the elemental composition of a material sample. It works by projecting a beam of infrared light through the sample and measuring the amount of light absorbed at different frequencies.

This absorption spectrum is unique for different molecules, with molecules belonging to different elements absorbing light at specific frequencies. The absorption spectrum is then transformed into a more detailed spectrum through the Fourier transform method. This allows for the identification of specific elements in the sample.

What Are the Benefits of FTIR?

FTIR offers several key benefits over other forms of infrared spectroscopy.

More Detailed Spectral Range

FTIR is highly accurate and provides an impressively detailed spectra that allow for the identification of even trace amounts of chemical compounds. This is because unlike regular Infrared technologies, the transform process makes the spectrum even more detailed than simply studying individual wavelengths.

Faster Analysis

Regular Infrared technology analyses portions of the spectrum individually. However, the Fourier transform process allows the entire spectrum to be analysed simultaneously, making analysis much faster.

Different Sample Forms

Fourier Transform Infrared has the ability to analyse samples across the three main states of matter: solids, liquids and gas. This gives it a significant advantage because you don’t need to conduct different methods of analysis for different sample states. If you are out in the field, you can test any sample you come across in the environment.


FTIR is non-destructive, meaning samples can be analysed without damaging them, making it ideal for use in industries where samples must be handled delicately, like historical artefact analysis. It’s also a safer technology for testing potentially harmful or toxic samples, as the operator doesn’t have to disturb or handle them.

Which Industries Can Apply FTIR?

FTIR is a useful technology for a wide variety of industries.

Polymers and Coatings

FTIR is used to identify the chemical composition of polymers, as well as to analyse the properties of these materials, such as their thermal stability. It can also help detect the presence of harmful contaminants in coatings, such as lead.

Environmental Science

Because of its ability to test samples in solid, liquid and gas form, FTIR is uniquely equipped to handle all types of environmental analysis. This can include testing soil, water or air contaminants.

Mineral Identification

The wide detection range of FTIR makes it a vital tool in the field of mineral analysis. Not only can it positively identify the presence of specific minerals, it can also measure their quality and purity with a high degree of accuracy.

Historical Artefacts

Historical artefacts, especially paintings, require extreme care when being tested. They are often priceless and taking or damaging samples is unacceptable. FTIR detects non-destructively, and can accurately assess the composition of artefacts. This is especially useful for detecting painted over sections of paintings, or level of degradation within metallic artefacts.

The Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR Analyser

agilent 4300 handheld ftir

The Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR Analyser is the first of its kind, and has quickly become the leading handheld FTIR device on the market. With its easy point-and-shoot functionality and lightweight (only 2 kgs) design, it really is the premier option for FTIR analysis in the field.

One of the most time-consuming aspects of mining exploration is lab turnaround times. Sending samples and waiting for their return halts progress. WIth the Agilent 4300’s instant results, you can get confirmation in the field.

Its interchangeable interface also allows for easy switching when analysing different materials, such as swapping from a polymer to a soil sample. When combined with its ability to analyse solids, liquids and gases, the diversity of sample types it can test are astounding.

Furthermore, for mining specifically, its superior mineral analysis range means it is much more competent at finding previously unseen minerals than any alternatives. The specificity of its analysis also reveals the presence of quartz and garnets, which can help you avoid inefficient energy use while grinding during processing.

Portable Analytical Solutions

Portable Analytical Solutions supplies all sorts of analysis devices for a range of industries across Australia and New Zealand.

While Fourier Transform Infrared is one such technology, there are many others that could also help you make sample analysis faster and more accurate.

To purchase your own Agilent 4300 Handheld FTIR Analyser, or one of our other FTIR products, don’t hesitate to get in contact today.

Fool’s Gold: How Precious Metal Testing Saves You From Being Swindled

Fool’s Gold: How XRF Precious Metal Testing Saves You From Being Swindled

Precious metals are, as the name would suggest, very expensive commodities. From jewellery to luxury household items, they are highly sought after and extremely rare.

The problem is, just like most naturally occurring metals and minerals, their quality depends on the purity of their composition. This means knowing the precise quality of what you’re buying is vital if you want to stay profitable in the precious metals industry. 

Read on to learn how precious metal testing, specifically with X-ray fluorescence (XRF), can save you from being swindled. 

What are Precious Metals?

Precious metals are elements that aren’t naturally abundant. As with most commodities, supply and demand affects the price. In this case, precious metals are extremely expensive because their supply is scarce while demand for them is high.

Specifically, the four main precious metals are:

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Platinum
  • Palladium

Of these four, gold is the most recognisable and universally sought after, especially for its use in jewellery. 

What is Precious Metal Testing?

Precious metal testing aims to identify the purity of an alleged precious metal sample. While a precious metal may look pure, most samples are alloys, meaning they are mixed with other elements or other precious metals. 

For example, gold has five common alloys to be aware of:

  • Fine gold – 99.9% pure gold
  • Gold alloy – Gold mixed with other elements
  • Yellow gold – silver alloy
  • Rose gold – copper alloy
  • White gold – palladium or nickel alloy

To accurately price these alloys, you need to know specifically how much gold is in the alloy. Otherwise, you may be paying for more gold than you are actually receiving. With the price of gold increasing, this isn’t a mistake you can afford. 

Precious metal testing becomes even more important when you consider the gold is likely a part of an object, such as an inlay on a piece of jewellery. This makes it even more difficult to test without having to destroy the object by removing the gold component. 

Which Technology is the Best for Precious Metal Testing?

With the stakes so high, you need to know that your precious metal testing solution is highly accurate and can provide instant results. 

XRF is widely accepted in the industry as the best precious metal testing technology, especially because it doesn’t damage the sample. 

Using an X-ray, it excites the sample and measures the fluorescence emitted by it. Each element creates a different type of emitted X-ray, which allows for detailed measurement of the composition of the sample. Only XRF can test quickly, precisely and non-destructively in such an intuitive and easy-to-use way. 

Precious Metal Testing with XRF 

XRF precious metal testing is big business and comes with many benefits. 

Saves Your Money

One of the most common precious metal testing methods for gold is acid testing. But there are two major drawbacks that could cost you a lot of money. 

Firstly, the acid tests are deemed ‘safe’ for the sample because they only damage it if it’s fake. But in pawnbroking or jewellery industries, just because a sample isn’t real doesn’t mean the object is worthless. 

The owner may still like the item even if it doesn’t contain real gold. Or, it could contain a mixture of real and fake materials, like fake gold but real silver. By damaging the fake gold, you’ve now lowered the overall value of the item. The seller is not going to be happy and you’ll likely have to purchase the item or compensate them for the damage.

Thankfully, XRF is non-destructive. The part of the sample that is excited by the X-ray is so minuscule that it can’t be seen by the naked eye. This means you can confidently test any kind of sample without fear of damage. 

The second issue is that acid testing isn’t as accurate as XRF. While it can tell you if gold is real or fake, true success in the precious metal industry comes from knowing the exact quantity and quality of the precious metals you buy and sell.

XRF tells you the precise composition of the sample, empowering you to be confident in your transactions. 

Saves Your Time

XRF isn’t just the most accurate precious metal testing method – it’s also the fastest!

Acid testing requires you to scratch the surface of the sample and then carefully administer the acid. Because the acid is corrosive, you also need to wear protective gear and be in a controlled environment.

With XRF, the X-ray excites the sample in just seconds, giving you an extremely quick reading. The sample doesn’t need to be prepared, and you don’t have to take any precautions. Simply use your XRF device and get precise analysis on the spot. 

It’s also worth mentioning that other testing methods like acid require you to go out and purchase testing kits. That’s an incredibly inefficient system if you are testing large quantities of precious metals on a daily basis. With XRF, you only need one device and it will last you for years. 

Saves Your Reputation

Fast and accurate testing obviously increases your capacity to trade and the money you can make through trading, but there is also something else they improve – your reputation!

As technology improves, the industry expects you to improve with it. If you’re still using precious metal testing methods that require identification through sight, touch or torches, the commodities you sell are soon going to be scrutinised by people who are using XRF. 

Buyers will become increasingly wary (if they aren’t already) of traders who don’t use advanced testing methods. If they are using XRF and you aren’t, the discrepancies between their analysis and yours will become too glaring to ignore. 

The Niton XL2 Precious Metal Analyser

XL2 Precious Metal Analyser
Niton XL2 Precious Metal Analyser

So, you’re convinced of the power of XRF technology for precious metal testing, but you aren’t sure which tool to use?

Well, the answer is simple. 

The Niton XL2 Precious Metal Analyser is the class leading portable XRF analyser that combines powerful analysis with ease of use. 

Its point and shoot simplicity means you simply have to press it against the sample and hold the trigger; no costly sample preparation required. 

It is programmed with a detection limit of 25 elements ranging from Sulphur (S) to Uranium (U), and is especially designed using Thermo Scientific AuDIT™ gold-plating detection technology. This makes it ideal for retail scenarios where objects with gold plating are regularly passed off as solid gold. 

With the Niton XL2 Precious Metal Analyser, never get swindled again! 

Portable Analytical Solutions (PAS) is a proud distributor of Niton products, including the XL2. To purchase or rent an XRF device and take your precious metal testing to the next level, get in touch today. 

For information on other industries and technologies serviced by PAS, visit our website. 

The Phenotyping Phenomenon: How Plant Phenotyping Technology Improves Plant Performance

The Phenotyping Phenomenon: How Plant Phenotyping Technology Improves Plant Performance

For much of history, people prayed to their gods to deliver them a good harvest. There’s no need to pray anymore…

With the help of plant phenotyping technology, you can control almost every aspect of your crop growth, making you more confident in your yields.

Read on to learn more about what plant phenotyping is and how it can improve your plant performance. 

What is Plant Phenotyping?

Plant phenotyping is the study of a plant’s physical and physiological traits. By gathering this information, you can get a complete picture of a plant’s phenotype, which includes all its observable characteristics and helps you create the perfect conditions for optimum growth. 

The History of Plant Phenotyping

While people have been experimenting with plant phenotyping since the invention of agriculture, it first became a recognised discipline in the 19th century. Scientists, armed with Darwin’s theory of evolution, began studying plant anatomy and physiology to better understand their growth and development. 

In the early 20th century, plant breeding became more widespread. Advancements in smart digital farming have made plant phenotyping a rapidly advancing science in recent decades.

How Does Plant Phenotyping Work?

Plant phenotyping measures and analyses various physical plant traits, such as their: 

  • Height
  • Biomass
  • Root length
  • Leaf size and shape
  • Flower colour

This list is by no means exhaustive, and will differ depending on the plant species. For example, some plants may not have roots, while some may not have flowers. 

It isn’t just the physical characteristics that are assessed. The plant’s physiological characteristics are also important. These can include:

  • The presence of parasites or mould growth
  • Photosynthesis 
  • Transpiration
  • Water use efficiency
  • Susceptibility to climate and temperature

Once again, there may be many more characteristics analysed depending on the specific species. This information tells you what’s going on beneath the surface, especially when considering how the environment impacts growth and yield. 

Finally, the data collected from both physical and physiological measurements is analysed to get meaningful insights into the plant’s phenotype. These insights can be used to understand the genetic and environmental factors that impact plant growth and development, and make informed decisions about breeding programs and crop management.

The Benefits of Plant Phenotyping

There are many benefits to integrating plant phenotyping into your crop management plan.

Improved Plant Survivability and Yield

Plant phenotyping helps identify the genetic and environmental factors that affect the viability of your crops. By identifying the risk factors that cause plants to die or under-produce, you can perfect your growing conditions, leading to improved yields and plant health.

Improved Understanding of Ideal Environment

Plant phenotyping can help you understand how plants respond to various environmental stressors, such as drought, heat, and salinity. This information can be used to develop more resilient crops that can better withstand these factors..

Better Breeding Selections

Information from plant phenotyping can help breeders select the best plants for breeding. Desirable traits can include:

  • Survivability
  • Interesting or unique traits
  • Natural disease resistance
  • Climate hardiness
  • Optimal yield 

This helps you eliminate undesirable genes and diseased plants from your crop, or helps you breed a hardier crop over time. 

How Has Technology Impacted Plant Phenotyping?

Plant phenotyping previously needed to be done by hand, but advancements in image processing and simulating environmental conditions has made phenotyping less labour intensive and more scalable. One tool that can do both is the LemnaTec PhenoTron. 

The LemnaTec PhenoTron

Lemnatex phenotron
The LemnaTec PhenoTron

The LemnaTec PhenoTron will revolutionise your ability to assess and experiment with different phenotypes.

It combines the imaging and image processing capabilities of a LabScanalyzer with the advantages of a climate-controlled growth cabinet. This means you can trial different simulated climates on control groups and capture high resolution images to show how they are affected. The PhenoTron can simulate wild temperature fluctuation with its impressive 15°C to 40°C range.

The PhenoTron’s climate-controlled growth chamber is equipped with tunable LED light sources and top stereo RGB cameras, meaning images can also capture the morphology and colour of your samples. 

Better yet, you don’t even have to take them yourself. The machine can take them automatically on schedules that you set using the touchscreen interface. 

The PhenoTron is capable of handling various sample sizes, from petri dishes and beakers, to seedlings, all the way to mature plants. You can even test disembodied samples, like leaves or branches. 

Armed with the knowledge that the LemnaTec’s PhenoTron provides, you save your experimentation for samples, rather than risking losing your entire crop. Then, once you have the results, you can make large scale adjustments to your crop management plan. 

Portable Analytical Solutions

Portable Analytical Solutions supplies all sorts of analysis devices for a range of industries across Australia and New Zealand. 

While agriculture is one such industry, there are many others that could also help you make sample analysis faster and more accurate. 

To purchase your own LemnaTec PhenoTron, or one of our other plant phenotyping products, don’t hesitate to get in contact today.