IXRF Systems, Inc., has developed Micro-focus x-ray fluorescence (XRF) tubes for adaptation inside the Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). Unlike electron-beam excitation, μ-XRF excitation produces no background and enables parts-per-million (ppm) elemental detection.

Traditionally, μ-XRF has only been available via the “XRF bench-top;” a stand-alone unit. Now, by integrating a high-powered x-ray source, coupled with polycapillary optics, into your existing SEM, XRF with beam spot sizes of 10-40 microns are now achievable. When coupled with Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS), XRF adaption excites heavier elements (above 2.0 keV) while EDS excites lighter elements (below 2.0 keV) of the same spot on the sample surface.

Each iXRF (Integrated X-Ray Fluorescence) system is vacuum interlocked with the SEM chamber, to allow safe specimen exchange. The x-rays from the source are shut off automatically when the SEM chamber is vented.

How it Works

Each Micro-focus x-ray tube is mounted on an open SEM port. The specimen is then examined using both the electron beam and the x-ray spot. The only condition needed to produce XRF spectra inside the SEM is a workable geometry.

Micro-focus “X-Beam” mounted on a Scanning Electron Microscope port.

Trace Element Detection:

The above vitamin sample demonstrates “the best of both worlds”; EDS and XRF. The top spectrum uses an electron beam from the SEM at 20kV. Elements C, Mg, Cl, and Ca are clearly visible, demonstrating higher sensitivity of EDS than XRF. In the lower spectrum, however, we see elements such as Fe, Cu, Zn, and trace amounts of Se clearly identifiable in the XRF spectrum, showing the increased sensitivity gained by XRF even in the 3-10kV range.

Without ever removing the sample, these two technologies can be used simultaneously at the same location with, in some instances, better than micro-probe sensitivity.


Micro-probes still use an electron beam to excite the sample, generating x-rays. The electron beam produces significant electron scatter, which adds noise to the x-ray signal generated by the elements of interest. In contrast, XRF is a directed photonic excitation, and therefore produces very little background, and trace elements of interest emerge.

Introducing Benchtop XRF

About Us

Since its incorporation over two decades ago, IXRF Systems has proven itself as a leader in x-ray microanalysis. IXRF uses innovative design and technology for example, IXRF remains the only EDS company capable of using the SEM PC, offering a “One PC Solution.”

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IXRF Sytems, Inc. reserves the right to change specifications without notice. Copyright 2015 IXRF Systems Inc.

10421 Old Manchaca Rd., Suite 620
Austin, TX 78748
Telephone: 512.386.6100
Fax: 512.386.6105