X-ray spectroscopy - The University of Sydney
Three microscope lenses point very closely to a section of Egyptian papyrus.

X-ray spectroscopy

Revealing the composition and structure of materials
The interaction of X-rays with matter results in characteristic energy absorption or emission spectra that can be used to identify and quantify the chemical composition, electronic structure, and physical properties of materials. Sydney Analytical offers a range of X-ray spectroscopic techniques.

X-ray and UV photoelectron spectroscopy

Photoelectron (or photoemission) spectroscopy measures the binding energies in a substance, which are characteristic of the chemical structure and molecular bonding. Using either X-ray (XPS) or ultraviolet light (UPS), this is a very sensitive technique for measuring the nature of surfaces.

This instrument, located in the Sydney Nanoscience Hub, is designed for surface and thin film characterisation. It is capable of both X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) and Ultraviolet Photoelectron Spectroscopy (UPS) and provides information on elemental composition, oxidation states and electronic states.

A Thermo Scientific MAGCISTM dual mode ion beam enables depth profiling and surface cleaning using either a monatomic or gas cluster beam, while a patented dual beam flood source prevents sample charging enabling easy analysis of insulators.

The size of the x-ray beam can be adjusted from 30 – 400μm in 5μm increments and samples analysed as single points or lines. Chemical imaging is also available allowing distribution maps from 0.5 mm x 0.5 mm up to 3 mm x 3mm in size to be collected.

Specialised accessories include:

  • Tilt module – for the collection of angle-dependent XPS with depth resolution of ~ 3nm
  • Vacuum transfer module - enables surfaces and devices to be transferred from cleanrooms or PC labs to the instrument without exposure to surface contamination.

The EnviroESCA measures X-ray photoelectron spectra under near-ambient pressure (up to 50 mbar) for analysis of catalysts, liquids and liquid-solid interfaces.

X-ray fluorescence

The elemental composition of a specimen can be determined by the characteristic radiation emitted after the sample is excited by X-rays. X-ray fluorescence (XRF) spectroscopy provides quantitative information about the elemental composition of bulk samples, or (in the case of XRF microscopy) compositional variation across samples.

The PANalytical energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence (XRF) bench-top spectrometer performs non-destructive analysis of elements from sodium to uranium, in concentrations from % down to ppm levels. This instrument is equipped with the Malvern Panalytical standardless Omnian calibration program and is specifically configured for the analysis of heavy metals.

The Bruker Tracer 5i is a handheld energy-dispersive XRF spectrometer, ideally suited for analyses both in the laboratory and in the field, and capable of analysing elements from Mg to U (variously % to ppm levels). The system is equipped with an internal camera, 3mm and 8mm collimators, and an automated internal wheel filter as well as a manual filter slot. Current calibrations include those for metals, ceramics and glass, with custom calibrations possible with the use of EasyCal software.

The Bruker ARTAX800 µ-XRF system is a portable energy-dispersive XRF spectrometer, with a 70 µm resolution, capable of both spot analyses and mapping. Elements from Na to U can be analysed (variously % to ppm levels) and a rotating measuring head enables analysis of a wide variety of samples without the need for contact, including samples too large to otherwise be analysed by conventional laboratory instruments and extremely small samples that require high resolution. Custom calibrations are possible with the use of EasyCal software.

The Rigaku SuperMini200 is a benchtop X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyser that offers high sensitivity and accuracy. The SuperMini200 is capable of analysing elements ranging from oxygen to uranium, and features wavelength dispersive optics, a high-resolution detector and easy-to-use software.

  • xrFuse1 fusion furnace

This compact electric fusion machine is designed for the preparation of single glass discs for more accurate XRF measurements.

Our partners at ANSTO operate two XRF beamlines at the Australian Synchrotron (XRF and Nanoprobe), covering different X-ray energy ranges, sample conditions and spatial resolutions. We can provide advice on their suitability for your experiment and how to access them.

X-ray absorption and X-ray emission spectroscopy (XAS/XES)

X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) probes how X-rays are absorbed by core electrons, revealing oxidation states and local atomic structure around selected elements. X-ray emission spectroscopy (XES) is effectively very-high energy resolution X-ray fluorescence (XRF), which can reveal oxidation state and ligand identity. 

Our partners at ANSTO operate three specialised X-ray absorption spectroscopy beamlines at the Australian Synchrotron (XAS, SXR and MEX) covering the full range of elemental absorption edges. We can provide advice on their suitability for your experiment and how to access them.


Sydney Analytical

  • Sydney Analytical maintains instruments in locations across the Camperdown / Darlington campus. Our principal locations are the Madsen Building (F09), Chemistry Building (F11), and Molecular Bioscience Building (G08), with satellite locations in the Sydney Nano Hub (A31) and the J03 Engineering Precinct Building. Our administration is in room 222, Madsen Building (F09), Camperdown Campus, University of Sydney.