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Top 5 XRF Reference Textbooks

[fa icon="calendar"] Mar 27, 2017 10:29:46 AM / by Dave Coler

Dave Coler

XRF or X-Ray Fluorescence spectrometry is an elegant chemical analysis technique used frequently in many industries for quality control of materials and R&D.  Despite its widespread use in industry, it is an analytical technique rarely encountered by students in colleges and universities, especially in the United States.   The rare exceptions to this are the geology departments in a few institutions where the technique is still used for geochemical studies. 

Given that many people with a chemistry background are rarely exposed to XRF before encountering one in the workplace, it can sometimes be difficult to educate yourself on this technique. In addition to this issue, many of the XRF gurus in the industry have been retiring at an increasing rate and not being replaced.  This has left many laboratories with a significant knowledge gap.

Most XRF vendors offer practical training courses in using their particular equipment. These courses tend to be focused on the use of the software and practical set up of applications but are generally light in the theoretical underpinnings of the technique. Fortunately, there are a few courses offered by independent organizations such as the International Center for Diffraction Data (ICDD) and the University of Western Ontario.

This training can be supplemented with some excellent reference textbooks.  The number of books in recent years has increased, with many blending theory with a strong practical approach.

The following are my personal top 5 XRF reference textbooks. 


1) Guidelines for XRF Analysis.  Setting up programmes for WDXRF and EDXRF by James Willis, Clive Feather and Ken Turner, 2014.

 One of the most recent and up to date practical XRF texts covering both WDXRF and EDXRF.  It has excellent sections on setting up analysis programs for analyzing specific types of materials including line selection and common interferences.  It also contains a good treatment of sample preparation and reference materials.

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2) XRF in the Workplace: A Guide to Practical XRF Spectrometry by James Willis, Ken Turner and Gary Pritchard, 2011. 

A very hands on book that has a heavy emphasis on sample preparation, quality control, troubleshooting and laboratory maintenance   The copyright pages state that it is available from PANalytical through the following e-mail address: [email protected].

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3) Handbook of X-ray Spectrometry: Methods and techniques by Van Grieken and Markowicz, 1993

 A collection of articles from different authors covering a range of X-ray topics including WDXRF, EDXRF, TXRF and synchrotron radiation induced X-ray emission. The articles are heavy in theory but good for deep background on a range of X-ray topics.


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4) Quantitative X-ray Sprectrometry by Jenkins, Gould, Gedcke 1995

A good general purpose book written by one of the masters of XRF.  The theory sections are an excellent reference, the sections on software are obviously out of date but fun to read to see how far things have come since the 1990's.

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5) Introduction to X-Ray Spectrometry Jenkins, 1974

This is the classic XRF text written by the master of XRF. Excellent explanation of X-ray physics and the theoretical underpinnings of XRF.


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Dave Coler

Written by Dave Coler

General Manager at LGC ARMI