Institute for Future

X-ray and particles


Our X-ray and particles laboratory is part of the Central Analytical Research Facility (CARF) and offers a range of X-ray-based methods and instrumentation for the phase/mineralogical and chemical characterisation of solid materials.

We analyse synthetic materials (for example, chemicals, steel, cement, metal alloys, polymers, nanomaterials) and natural materials (for example, soils, rocks, minerals). We support QUT research, collaborate with external researchers, and provide analytical consultancy to commercial organisations.

X-ray and particles lab flyer [388KB]

The main services we provide are:

  • X-ray diffraction, including full clay characterisation
  • X-ray fluorescence
  • sample preparation.

Read details

X-Ray Analysis Coordinator

Analysis team

Organisational unit
Lead unit Institute for Future Environments
Research areas
X-ray diffraction, XRD, X-ray fluorescence, XRF, density analysis, physical properties, crystal structure, quantitative phase analysis, phase identification, elemental analysis, Rietveld, nanotechnology, geoscience, material science


X-ray diffraction (XRD)

X-ray diffraction (XRD) is a technique that uses the unique diffracted spectral 'fingerprint' from any solid crystalline material for qualitative identification and quantitative abundance determination of phases in mixtures of synthetic or natural materials. Using an internal or external standard with a phase mixture allows the quantification of the amorphous (non-crystalline) content present in the mixture.

XRD can also be used to characterise crystalline materials in other ways (for example, crystallite size, orientation, microstrain, residual stress analysis, characterisation of thin films). Instrument hardware allows the characterisation of materials under:

  • ambient room temperature and pressure
  • non-ambient conditions (cooling and heating from -193°C to 1200°C)
  • in air, inert and reactive gases
  • vacuum.

Such hardware permits the dynamic characterisation of phase changes under varying experimental conditions.

Working detection limits are around 1wt% for powder XRD on phase mixtures. A range of X-ray sources and instrument hardware optics and configurations are used to optimise spectrum acquisition for a given analysis (for example, powder, thin film, single crystal) and phase type.

Typical XRD applications include qualitative and quantitative mineralogical characterisation of mine ores, mine site remediation and road construction materials, thin film phase analysis of nanomaterials and single crystal analysis of synthetic products.


Instrument Capabilities and features
Panalytical X'Pert MPD Powder diffractometer with parallel beam/thin film capability. 45-position sample changer. Cobalt radiation.
Rigaku SmartLab XRD Powder diffractometer with parallel beam/thin film capability and small area analysis capability. 40-position sample changer. Molybdenum and copper radiation.
Rigaku SmartLab XRD Powder diffractometer with parallel beam/thin film capability and small area analysis capability. Anton-Parr 1200⁰C stage, Rigaku 1000⁰C flow gas stage. Oxford Cryostream system (down to 80⁰C). Molybdenum and copper radiation.
Rigaku Oxford Single Crystal XRD Gemini Single-source small molecule single crystal X-ray diffraction system.

X-ray fluorescence (XRF)

X-ray fluorescence (XRF) is an established X-ray technique for the quantitative chemical characterisation of solids using the characteristic X-ray line emission/s of the element/s of interest in any given material. Unlike XRD, XRF can be used to characterise crystalline and non-crystalline solids. Liquids, including oils, can also be analysed using the XRF technique. The laboratory offers two complementary approaches to material characterisation by XRF:

  • Wavelength Dispersive-XRF (WD-XRF)
  • Energy Dispersive-XRF (ED-XRF).

Sample compositions can be measured using fused glass discs, pressed powder pellets or loose powders depending on specific requirements (qualitative or quantitative data, major, minor or trace level elemental abundances).

Routine suites of elements can be measured and quantified, including:

  • major and minor elements: Si, Ti, Al, Fe(III), Mn, Mg, Na, Ca, K, P, S(VI), plus Cl, F, Ba, Sr, Zr, Hf, Ni, Cu, Zn, and Pb (to nominal working detection limits of <<100ppm)
  • 41 select trace elements from Sc to U (to nominal working detection limits of 15 to <1 ppm, element dependant).

Typical XRF applications include major and trace element analysis of rocks and soils, iron and sulphide ores, mine wastes and remediation materials, cement, pigments and other components in food packaging, trace element analysis of foodstuffs, analysis of precipitates from contaminated processing water, determination of elemental ratios in nanomaterials.


Instrument Capabilities and features
PANalytical AXIOS Wavelength X-ray Fluorescence (WD-XRF) Spectrometer 1kW Rh tube, PX1, PE002, LiF200, LiF220 analysing crystals, collimators, tube filters, scintillation, duplex and gas flow detectors. Capable of analysing C to U. Routine LLD <100ppm most major elements, <1-2ppm most trace elements in rocks and soils. Automated unattended operation allowing quantitative major and trace element analysis on fused glass discs, pressed powder pellets, and qualitative elemental identification via wavelength scanning.
SPECTRO XEPOS Energy Dispersive X-ray Fluorescence (ED-XRF) Spectrometer Analysis of all elements from sodium to uranium, in a wide range of samples, such as soils, sewage sludge, additives in oil, cement, slag, and electronic components and parts. Solid pellet, loose powder, fused disk and liquids, depending on application.

Sample preparation

We have access to a wide range of sample preparation equipment, including fusion apparatus, and crushing, grinding and micronising equipment. Our qualified and experienced geo-analytical staff can also provide thin section preparation and petrologic investigation capabilities. Prior to sample preparation (for example, grinding or heating) and submission, please discuss XRD and/or XRF analysis and sample requirements with our expert laboratory staff.


Instrument Capabilities and features
McCrone Micronising Mills Reduce particle size to < 5 µm.
Rocklabs Swing Mill Reduce particle size to < 75 µm.
Claisse Le Neo Fused discs preparation for XRF.
Claisse TheOX electronic fusion instrument Preparation of inorganic samples (fusion solutions and fused disks) for X-ray fluorescence (WD-XRF and ED-XRF).
Rocklabs Swing Mills and plate crusher Rock preparation and crushing (located at Banyo Pilot Plant).
Drying ovens Drying of samples (40°C, 100°C).

Services and equipment hire

Accessing services and equipment

Our equipment is available to researchers and external clients at a competitive price with both full-service and self-service options. Our experienced staff can provide training, advice and guidance on the experimental process and the analysis of results, so that you achieve optimal outcomes.

Indicative pricing for commercial organisations and external researchers is provided below.

Indicative 2019 pricing for commercial organisations

A minimum batch fee of $500 applies to commercial organisations.

Equipment, service or analysis With technician assistance (including GST) Unassisted (including GST)
X-ray diffraction (XRD) services
Quantitative powder XRD $340 per sample n/a
Quantitative powder XRD with qualitative clay analysis $425 per sample n/a
Fine Fraction Quantitative XRD analysis. Client to specify size fraction (e.g. < 5μm, < 2μm) $480 per sample n/a
X-ray diffraction (XRD) equipment use
XRD equipment use  $340 per hour $220 per hour
X-ray fluorescence (XRF) services
Major elements - 22 elements (fused glass disc) including LOI POA n/a
Trace elements - 40 elements (pressed pellet) POA n/a
Combined techniques
Combined XRD and XRF majors $385 per sample n/a
Combined XRD including clays and XRF majors $470 per sample n/a
Density measurement (Helium pycnometer) $320 for up to four samples, then $50 per additional sample  n/a

Indicative 2019 pricing for external researchers

Equipment, service or analysis With technician assistance (excluding GST) Unassisted (excluding GST)
X-ray diffraction (XRD) equipment use
PANalytical Xpert PRO Co MPD $145 per hour $80 per hour
Rigaku Smartlab Cu/Mo - Routine 382 $145 per hour $80 per hour
Rigaku Smartlab Cu/Mo - Research 383 $155 per hour $95 per hour
Oxford-Rigaku Gemini S Cu/Mo Ultra $160 per hour $95 per hour
X-ray fluorescence (XRF) services
Major elements (fused glass disc) POA POA
Trace elements (pressed pellet) POA POA

Sample preparation

Please note the pricing above includes all essential XRD and XRF-related sample preparation.  Pricing for samples requiring preparation prior to X-ray analysis, e.g. bulk sample grinding, sizing or splitting can be found by following the link to our geological sample preparation facility web page.

Booking instructions

To arrange a consultation, refer to our booking instructions.


Central Analytical Research Facility - X-ray and Particles Laboratory

  • Level 6, P Block
    Gardens Point
    2 George St
    Brisbane QLD 4000