Space Technology Comes Down to Earth
Researchers at the University of Leicester in the UK are developing an imaging system with applications in archaeology, forensics, geology, silicon chip production, and the food and automotive industries. The instrument, an imaging x-ray fluorescence spectrometer, was included on the European Space Agency's 1998 Smart-1 satellite to investigate the composition of a near-Earth asteroid.
X-ray fluorescence spectrometers are used in science and industry for nondestructive chemical analysis. The new imager, however, will detect the distribution as well as the presence of elements across the surface of a sample using a microchannel plate x-ray lens and a charge-coupled device detector.
Commercial development is in partnership with Gresham Scientific Instruments Ltd. of Marlow, UK, with a grant from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
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