X-ray analysis


X-ray laboratory

Our X-ray analysis laboratory offers X-ray diffraction, X-ray fluorescence and sample preparation.

We provide 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.

The main services we provide are:

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


X-ray diffraction (XRD)

X-ray diffraction (XRD) is a technique that uses the unique diffraction pattern '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-diffracting) content present in the mixture.

XRD can also be used to characterise crystalline materials in other ways (for example, crystallite size, texture, 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)
  • 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. 36-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 80K). Molybdenum and copper radiation.
Rigaku Oxford Single Crystal XRD Gemini Double-source (Cu, Mo) 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).

Using our 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.

Booking instructions

To arrange a consultation, refer to our booking instructions. For internal use, please go to booking information for QUT staff and students (login required).

Indicative 2020 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) $30 $25
Trace elements (pressed pellet) $50 $25  

Indicative 2020 pricing for commercial organisations

Equipment, service or analysis With technician assistance (including GST) Unassisted (including GST)
X-ray diffraction (XRD) services
Quantitative powder XRD $315 per sample N/A
Quantitative powder XRD with qualitative clays $390 per sample N/A
Stand alone qualitative clay analysis $135 per sample N/A
Optional additional clay treatments (client to specify treatment/s) $40 per treatment N/A
Quantitative fine fraction XRD analysis (suitable for bulk clays and bulk respirable silica) $440 per sample N/A
X-ray instrument hire rates
X-Ray Diffractometer - high throughput Co/Cu/Mo $305 per hour $185 per hour
X-Ray Diffractometer - Cu/Mo non-ambient $365 per hour $215 per hour
X-ray fluorescence bulk sample chemical analysis
Major elements - 21 elements reported as wt% oxides, includes LOI $50 per sample N/A
Trace elements - 40 elements reported as ppm (ug/g) $50 per sample N/A

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 eg. bulk sample grinding, sizing or splitting can be found by following the link to our geological sample preparation facility web page.

Capability team

Mr Ashley Locke

Laboratory Coordinator (X-ray Analysis)

Dr Tony Wang

Research Infrastructure Specialist (X-ray Diffraction)

Dr Henry Spratt

Senior Technologist (X-ray and Geoscience)

Contact us

Central Analytical Research Facility - X-ray Analysis Laboratory

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

Postal address

Central Analytical Research Facility
GPO Box 2434
Brisbane QLD 4001

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