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  • Handheld mineral analyzer employs XRD and XRF

Industrial Photonics
Apr 2014
LEICESTER, England – Efforts are under way to develop a handheld mineral analyzer for mining applications – the first of its kind.

Allowing for rapid mineral identification and quantification in the field through a combination of x-ray diffraction (XRD) and x-ray fluorescence (XRF), the instrument will be created through a collaborative project between the University of Leicester’s Space Research Center (SRC) and Bruker Elemental.

The addition of XRD capability is an improvement upon current XRF instruments, which sell thousands of units globally each year. The instrument is expected to weigh 1.5 kg and be able to analyze mining samples for mineral content within one to two minutes. There is no need for sample preparation – an unprecedented feature of XRD equipment.

A rock specimen mounted for analysis. Photo courtesy of Dr. Graeme M. Hansford.

“It’s very fulfilling for me to see the development of this novel XRD technique from initial conception through theoretical calculations and modeling to experimental demonstration,” said Dr. Graeme Hansford of the SRC, project leader. “The next step is to develop the commercial potential, and I’m very excited to be working with Bruker Elemental on the development of a handheld instrument.”

Hansford originally conceived of the XRD technique in early 2010 when trying to figure out how to apply the technology in space without sample preparation.

“In many cases, this system will provide information on the crystallography of the sample in addition to the elemental analysis,” said Alexander Seyfarth, senior product manager at Bruker Elemental.

Next, the project will focus on developing and testing the methodology using samples that are representative of real-world problems encountered in mining, such as determining the relative amounts of iron oxide materials in ore samples. The SRC and Bruker will develop a handheld prototype to demonstrate the technology’s efficiency in the field.

An optical device, such as a Nicol prism, capable of producing plane-polarized light, and used for detecting the effect of the object on plane-polarized light produced by the polarizer.
The analysis of the atomic structures within crystals by means of x-ray diffraction.
As a wavefront of light passes by an opaque edge or through an opening, secondary weaker wavefronts are generated, apparently originating at that edge. These secondary wavefronts will interfere with the primary wavefront as well as with each other to form various diffraction patterns.  
1. In raster scan television, one of the two scans that are interlaced to make up a frame. 2. See field of view.
The emission of light or other electromagnetic radiation of longer wavelengths by a substance as a result of the absorption of some other radiation of shorter wavelengths, provided the emission continues only as long as the stimulus producing it is maintained. In other words, fluorescence is the luminescence that persists for less than about 10-8 s after excitation.
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