Photos of the X-ray Fluorescence Experiment

This experiment was conducted at Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. We are grateful to Air Products for the use of their equipment, and to everyone who gave us their time in performing the actual sample analysis.


This is a photograph of the x-ray fluorescence instrument used to conduct these experiments. The instrument is a Philips System PW1480.


To begin the experiment, a coin is placed into the sample cup.



The sample cup is then placed into the automatic loading mechanism.



From the computer keyboard, the command is given to begin the analysis.



The arm moves over the first sample and picks up the sample cup.



The cup is moved to the receiver and dropped into position. The door then closes on top of the sample.



Inside the instrument, a beam of x-rays strikes the surface of the sample and a core electron is ejected from the atom that absorbed the x-ray photon. When an outer electron falls into the hole created by the ejected electron, it gives off energy in the form of x-rays (see illustration at left). This emission is called fluorescence and a characteristic pattern exists for each element.


After the sample has been analyzed, the spectrum is displayed on the monitor.

 Return to the coin experiment introduction.