Analysis of low Z elements in various environmental samples with total reflection X-ray fluorescence (TXRF) spectrometry

H. Hoefler, C. Streli, P. Wobrauschek, M. Óvári, Gy Záray

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Recently there is a growing interest in low Z elements such as carbon, oxygen up to sulphur and phosphorus in biological specimen. Total reflection X-ray fluorescence (TXRF) spectrometry is a suitable technique demanding only very small amounts of sample. On the other side, the detection of low Z elements is a critical point of this analytical technique. Besides other effects, self absorption may occur in the samples, because of the low energy of the fluorescence radiation. The calibration curves might be not linear any longer. To investigate this issue water samples and samples from human cerebrospinal fluid were used to examine absorption effects. The linearity of calibration curves in dependence of sample mass was investigated to verify the validity of the thin film approximation. The special requirements to the experimental setup for low Z energy dispersive fluorescence analysis were met by using the Atominstitute's TXRF vacuum chamber. This spectrometer is equipped with a Cr-anode X-ray tube, a multilayer monochromator and a SiLi detector with 30 mm2 active area and with an ultrathin entrance window. Other object on this study are biofilms, living on all subaqueous surfaces, consisting of bacteria, algae and fungi embedded in their extracellular polymeric substances (EPS). Many trace elements from the water are bound in the biofilm. Thus, the biofilm is a useful indicator for polluting elements. For biomonitoring purposes not only the polluting elements but also the formation and growth rate of the biofilm are important. Biofilms were directly grown on TXRF reflectors. Their major elements and C-masses correlated to the cultivation time were investigated. These measured masses were related to the area seen by the detector, which was experimentally determined. Homogeneity of the biofilms was checked by measuring various sample positions on the reflectors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1135-1140
Number of pages6
JournalSpectrochimica Acta - Part B Atomic Spectroscopy
Issue number10-11 SPEC. ISS.
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2006



  • Biofilms
  • Low Z elements
  • Self absorption
  • TXRF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Analytical Chemistry
  • Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
  • Instrumentation
  • Spectroscopy

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