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Guide to PXRF Instruments

Guide to PXRF Instruments


Portable Analytical Solutions

XL2 & XL5 PXRF Instruments

After you’ve identified that a Portable XRF (PXRF)  instrument will suit your analysing needs, the next question is which instrument will suit your needs best.

This article outlines the details of each PXRF instrument, to help you make a more informed decision.


Niton XL2 PXRF

The XL2 Portable XRF Analyser provides immediate, nondestructive elemental analysis for a wide range of applications. It can detect alloy materials from titanium to nickel, as well as tramp and trace element analysis. The XL2’s standard analytical range spans up to 30 elements from sulphur to uranium.

This instrument is lightweight, rugged and built for harsh conditions:

  • Sealed against moisture and dust
  • Ergonomically designed
  • Daylight-readable icons on colour, touch-screen display

Applications for the Niton XL2

  • General Metal
  • Gold
  • Ore
  • Lead Contamination
  • RoHS
  • Alloy
  • Mine Management
  • Waste
  • Hazmat
XL2 Precious Metal Analyser

Niton XL2 Plus PXRF

This is a tough, powerful, handheld instrument for identifying metal alloys and mineral ores easily in the field. It can identify Niobium in Titanium alloys down to 200 ppm and more generally, elements from Magnesium to Uranium, down to 20 ppm in common alloys.

Applications for the Niton XL2 PLus

  • Verification of metals and alloys in manufacturing operations
  • Quality Assurance testing for positive material identification
  • Handheld point-and-shoot sorting at scrap recycling operations
  • Precious metal assay of bullion and jewellery
Guide to PXRF Instruments 1

Niton XL3 PXRF

The Niton XL3 is an advanced Portable XRF analyser with sophisticated models designed for specific industry applications. A tilting, colour, touch-screen display allows easy viewing of sample results under any condition.

The optional integrated camera allows users to locate, view, and store the analysis image and the test results for later reference.

The handheld Niton XL3t GOLDD+ for light element (Mg-S) analysis offers the lowest limits of detection and fastest measurement times.

  • Integrated GPS on some models
  • Rapid accurate decisions on-site
  • Low limits of detection
  • Optimisation for light elements in some models

Applications for the Niton XL3

  • Geochemical
  • Mining and Exploration
  • Manufacturing
  • Engineering
  • PMI
  • Scrap Metal Recycling
Niton™ XL3 Analyser Handheld

Niton XL5 PXRF

This top range model has the best limits of detection in the range, and is smaller, lighter and even more ergonomic.

The XL5 allows the x-ray source and fluorescence detector to be closer to the sample, improving limits of detection and shortening measurement time, especially for light elements.

As well as metals, the XL5 measures the elemental composition of scale, sludge, oil, powders and slurries.

  • Vivid navigation; customisable user profiles
  • Micro and macro cameras
  • Advanced analytical performance
  • Lightweight ergonomic design.

Utilise Mining Mode to gather accurate, real time geochemical data and maximise overall productivity:

Mining Mode enables users to determine the concentration of elements from Mg to U in various types of geochemical materials. Reduce overheads by implementing the Niton XL5 for cost effective oil and gas exploration, mineral discovery and mining operations.

Applications of the Niton XL5

  • Alloys
  • Metal Fabrication
  • Scrap Metal
  • Mining & Exploration
Niton XL5 PXRF

Niton DXL Portable Benchtop XRF

Niton gold spectrometers quickly provide the exact karat weight and percentages of all elements within an item – easily identifying non-standard, under-karated, and even advanced counterfeit gold with fire assay-comparable accuracy.

With an innovative colour touch-screen display and touch-screen keyboard, the DXL analyses precious metals with speed and accuracy. Its features include:

  • Improved intuitive interface
  • CCD Camera
  • Large sample chamber with a back window for customer view
  • Optional small spot for the isolation of small components
  • Handles small pieces or multiple items simultaneously
  • Non-destructive and simple to operate

With the Niton DXL you can:

  • Simultaneously measure the content of all gold and precious metals without manually changing your calibration based on the metal you’re analysing 
  • Precisely determine the presence and concentration of other trace alloying elements including lead
  • Eliminate the toxicity associated with nitric acid test methods
  • Capture images and focus in on small areas using our integrated cameral and small spot feature (depends on model)

Key Applications for the Niton DXL

  • Gold Buying
  • Jewellers
  • Secondhand Dealers
  • Collectors
Niton DXL

To discuss your PXRF requirements and understand which instrument is best for you, please get in touch and chat with one of our experts.

Applications of PXRF in the field

Applications of PXRF in the Field


Portable Analytical Solutions

PXRF In The Field

Handheld and portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analysers have many applications for elemental analysis

Below is a summary from the Thermo Scientific XRF Technology ebook, of a few industries putting XRF technology to work in daily operations.


Metal Alloy Analysis, Identification and Testing

Scrap Metal Recycling

Globalised trade in scrap metal, alloy stock and finished products has resulted in increased costs of alloy mix-ups to suppliers, distributors and industrial consumers. So in order to ensure quality, safety and regulatory compliance, the exact chemical composition of scrap, including the existence of contaminants or hazardous elements, must be determined.

Scrap metal recyclers use handheld PXRF to:

  • Rapidly sort mixed metals
  • Positively identify numerous alloys, including light alloys
  • Guarantee the quality of their product to their customers

Positive Material Identification (PMI)

If critical parts of machinery are made from the wrong metal alloy, or a material that does not meet specifications, it can lead to premature and potentially catastrophic part failures, and result in accidents.

Positive Material Identification (PMI) is the process of inspecting and analysing individual component materials. Portable XRF analysers can perform PMI of:

  • Incoming raw materials
  • Work in progress
  • Final quality assurance of finished parts

Precious Metals & Jewellery Analysis 

Portable XRF analysers are ideal for jewellers and pawn shops to test the purity and composition of precious metals. XRF quickly provides the exact percentages of all elements within an item, easily identifying:

  • Karat and concentration of Gold
  • Non-standard materials
  • Under-karated materials
  • Sophisticated counterfeit precious metals that acid testing is incapable of differentiating 

Metal Fabrication; Quality Assurance & Control

In the metal fabrication and manufacturing process, the potential for material mix-ups and the need for traceability are a concern at every step. Material verification for alloy quality assurance (QA) and quality control (QC) are critical to product safety.

Prior to product manufacture, Handheld XRF is used for:

  • Inspection of incoming raw material to verify alloy grade and composition
  • Final quality inspection before finished parts are sent to the customer
  • Assurance that the incoming raw materials and outgoing finished parts meet the expected engineering requirements



Portable XRF analysers are perfect for the mining/geology industries, as they can be operated virtually anywhere on site and easily accommodate a wide variation of samples, with little or no sample preparation.

This makes them substantially advantageous in mining operations, because it provides immediate feedback and allows for quick decision making, including:

  • Whether to stop or continue drilling
  • When to make equipment relocation decisions
  • Where to focus on the grid
  • When to select a sample for laboratory analysis

The real-time analysis of a handheld XRF also prequalifies samples for off-site lab analysis, which ensures only the best samples are evaluated.

Below are specific applications of the PXRF within mining/geology:


XRF analysers quickly deliver exploration data for quantitative geochemical analysis of metal concentrations for mine mapping. 

Production and Mineral Processing

Fast, laboratory-grade sample analysis data for process control, quality assurance and other operational decisions.

Mine Site Analysis and Extraction

Send data to quarry laboratory and operations management personnel for easy collaboration and informed decisions. 

Industrial Minerals Evaluation

In-quarry exploration and evaluating the composition of raw materials such as phosphate, potash, gypsum and limestone for industrial use.

Oil & Gas Exploration

Valuable for upstream exploration and production, offering rapid, on-site chemical analysis of rocks, cuttings, and cores that can be used for identifying formations and determining mineral composition of the rock. Users can infer mineralogical properties favourable to oil and gas production from data collected in real time. 


Toys and Consumer Goods

Consumer goods such as toys, apparel, jewellery, cosmetics and furniture are now routinely screened using XRF analysers. This protocol largely came as a result of The Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008, which was signed into law to combat the alarming amounts of lead found in children’s toys.

Both the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and Europe’s PROSAFE (Product Safety) use XRF analysers for screening toys and consumer goods.

Worldwide Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) regulations continue to impact the manufacturers of electrical and electronic goods and their supply chains…as do the halogen-free initiatives. Handheld XRF analysers help enforcement agencies screen goods for:

  • Mercury
  • Lead
  • Other harmful materials


Environmental Analysis / Remediation

PXRF analysers provide on-site analysis of environmental contaminants, from hazardous site modeling and risk assessment to on-site contaminant screening and lead paint abatement.

Lead Paint Inspection

Government regulations, such as the U.S. EPA-issued Renovation, Repair and Painting (RRP) Rule, mandate lead-safe work practices for contractors performing renovations. XRF analysers provide conclusive results for lead in samples as referred to in AS/NZS 4361.2:2017associated with the abatement and control of lead-based paint for compliance with RRP and other state and federal requirements.


Industrial and agricultural sites can become contaminated with lead, arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and other toxic metals. The first remedial step in treating these hazardous areas is accurately assessing the scope and extent of the pollutants in the soil.

XRF analysers provide lab-grade performance in the field, permitting surgical delineation of contamination boundaries while in full compliance with US EPA Method 6200. 


Art and Archaeometry

PXRF analysers can collect quantitative elemental data from archaeological samples. This data can be used to:

  • Match pigments and other materials for restoration
  • Help identify how objects have been preserved in the past
  • How to better conserve them for the future
  • Glean important clues to the age of petroglyphs
  • Identify alloys and other materials
  • Help authenticate a variety of art and artifacts

The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) requires that Native American cultural artifacts be returned to lineal descendants or affiliated tribes. XRF technology can be used to evaluate these objects for the presence of arsenic or other harmful preservatives before they are returned.

As you can see, the portable XRF devices are incredibly versatile and have a broad range of applications. This is thanks to the software, which can be interchanged within the same device.

To find out more and read the full XRF Technology ebook from Thermo Scientific, click on the button below:

XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence) Explained

XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence) Explained


Portable Analytical Solutions

XRF Explained

XRF (X-ray Fluorescence) is a non-destructive analytical technique used to determine the chemical composition of materials.

XRF (X-Ray Fluorescence) has a broad range of applications across many industries, so to understand if and how it might work within your field, let’s take a closer look at what it is.

Specifically, in this article we will discuss:

  • What XRF is
  • How it works
  • Strengths & limitations of XRF

What is an X-Ray

Quite simply, X-rays are light waves that we cannot see. They have a very short wavelength, which corresponds to a very high energy, meaning they can pass through most objects.

X-Ray Properties:

  • Propagated in straight lines at speed of light
  • Absorbed while passing through matter, depending on composition and density of the substance
  • Emitted with energies characteristic of the elements present
  • Affect the electrical properties of liquids and solids
  • Cause biological reactions such as cell damage or genetic mutation
  • Darken photographic plates
  • Ionize gases

What is X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF)?

XRF occurs when a fluorescent (or secondary) x-ray is emitted from a sample that is being excited by a primary x-ray source. XRF is an excellent technology for qualitative and quantitative analysis of material composition, because the fluorescence is unique to the elemental composition of the sample – hence why it is so versatile and has a wide range of applications.

The X-Ray Fluorescence Process

A solid or liquid sample is irradiated with high energy x-rays from a controlled x-ray tube.


When an atom in the sample is struck with an x-ray of sufficient energy (greater than the atom’s K or L shell binding energy), an electron from one of the atom’s inner orbital shells is dislodged. 


The atom regains stability, filling the vacancy left in the inner orbital shell with an electron from one of the atom’s higher energy orbital shells.


The electron drops to the lower energy state by releasing a fluorescent x-ray. The energy of this x-ray is equal to the specific difference in energy between two quantum states of the electron. The measurement of this energy is the basis of XRF analysis.

X-Ray Fluorescence Process

What are Portable XRF (PXRF) Analysers?

Handheld and portable XRF analysers provide instant analysis in any field environment, thanks to their lightweight design and ease of use. They are routinely used for rapid quality control inspection and analysis to ensure product chemistry specifications are met, and have become the standard for non-destructive elemental analysis in a wide range of applications.

Now on their seventh generation, portable XRF technology has become increasingly sophisticated, with new capabilities including smaller size, increased speed, better performance and greater ease of use.

Today’s portable XRF analysers are miniaturised and designed for ultra high speed with lab-quality performance.


How PXRF Analysers Detect X-Rays

The detector is an important part of all XRF instrumentation, since it is responsible for determining the elements present in a given sample by accurately and nondestructively “reading” the fluorescent x-rays.

When the characteristic x-rays enter the detector, their electromagnetic energies are converted to electrical pulses. These pulses are then sorted into element channels in a Digital Signal Processor (DSP).

Next, the “counts” from each element are sent to the microprocessor, which contains the algorithms for calculating the concentration of each element from the count rate data.

There are two main types of detectors in handheld XRF technology:

Silicon Drift Detectors (SDDs)

SDDs are high-resolution detectors that can be used in high count-rate applications. The larger the active area of the detector, the more efficiently it can gather and process x-ray counts.

XRF instrumentation employing SDD can be used in applications that require extreme sensitivity, such as the detection of tramp elements that can degrade the performance of alloys.

Residual elements can be measured with a confidence once only possible in the lab. SDD’s are also required to analyse light elements such as Magnesium (Mg), Aluminium (Al), Silicon (Si), Phosphorus (P) and Sulfur (S).

The introduction of SDDs into PXRF instruments has produced significant performance improvements over traditional XRF capabilities.

PIN Detectors

This is a high-performance, high-resolution technology conventionally used in handheld and portable XRF instrumentation. It is appropriate for numerous industry applications.

PIN Detectors measure the fluorescence radiation emitted from the sample after it has been irradiated, usually by an x-ray tube (occasionally by a radioactive source). 

Instruments with Silicon PIN detectors are sensitive to X-rays that are higher on the periodic table than Sulfur (S) and tend to be less expensive than instruments with Silicon Drift Detectors. 


Limitations of Handheld XRF

The fluorescent x-rays from lighter elements (Z<18) are less energetic and are greatly attenuated as the x-rays pass through air, meaning analysis of these elements with handheld XRF can be challenging.

Spectral Effects

Some elements have lines that overlap other elements, which can make detection challenging – especially when two overlapping elements are present.

Fortunately the software will strip out and correct most of these overlaps (as long as the interfering element is in the mode being used).

Matrix Effects

The matrix refers to any other element present in the sample, other than the one element being considered. 

If however you are using a fundamental parameters based calibration with all the necessary elements present, enhancement and absorption effects are typically taken care of in the software.

Enhancement Effects

Some fluorescent x-rays have more energy than the binding energy of other elements present in the sample, so their energy will excite those other elements. These elements will give a greater signal return to the detector, therefore “enhancing” the reading.

Absorption Effects

If the fluorescent x-ray is scattered or absorbed by other elements present in the sample, it will not reach the detector so the signal is weaker.

Sample Effects

XRF is a surface analysis technique, so if the surface of the material being analysed is not representative of the entire sample (particle size, inhomogeneity, surface contamination etc) the results will be skewed.


Strengths of Portable Handheld XRF Analysers

  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • Cost-effective
  • Nondestructive
  • Accurate results
  • Instant results
  • Portable
  • Used onsite

If you’d like to discuss your PXRF requirements, please get in touch and chat with one of our experts.