X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is the technique for the non-invasive investigation of delicate or valuable objects. It has been used for a number of years in the fine art and antiques industry to characterise the composition of paintings and items such as weapons, while having no effect on the object, and to shed light on the origin of potentially priceless artefacts.
The Brüker Artax is a semi-portable XRF capable of providing detailed information of the composition of a single point on an object or producing an “element map” of the distribution of an element or elements across the surface. This capability has been used to study pigment
distribution in paintings, documents and fabrics. The Brüker Tracer is a hand held XRF suited for onsite investigations.
XRF lends itself to many applications outside those associated with art and antiques. For example, it has been used at the 3M BIC to study the composition of inks and lubrication oils, the metal ion content of biological fluids such as blood, the purity of human metal implants such as hip replacements, and the composition of cosmetics.