As of July 24, 2015

for international journal X-Ray Spectrometry (John Wiley & Sons Ltd.)


Pico-second time-resolved X-ray absorption near edge spectrometer (July 9, 2015)

Dr. F. Dorchies (Universite Bordeaux, CNRS-CELIA, France) and his colleagues have recently developed a laser-base X-ray absorption spectrometer covering 0.5-4.0 keV with a time resolution of around 3.3 pico second.  The spectrometer uses bremsstrahlung caused by the extremely high impact of laser pulses on the metallic target.  To perform time-resolved X-ray spectroscopic studies, there have been quite a few challenges.  For most research, it is crucial to avoid damaging/destroying samples, and the measuring time should not be very long.  In addition, scientists don't like to compromise the signal-to-background ratio of spectral data taken at each time point, even though the quality is not the same as that of ordinary X-ray absorption spectra.  The authors seem to believe that they are getting some breakthroughs.  Their setup is a combination of a table-top laser (Ti: Sapphire, 800nm, 150mJ, 10Hz) and a Johan spectrometer equipped with a CCD camera.  A set of polycapillary optics were employed as a beamline transport between the X-ray source and the sample (1 m distance) to maintain a clean, independent and flexible environment for the sample. The X-ray intensity near the Al K edge and Cu L edges is 1.3 × 106 photons/eV/pulse.  For more information, see the paper, "Experimental station for laser-based picosecond time-resolved x-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy", F. Dorchies et al., Rev. Sci. Instrum. 86, 073106 (2015).

Standardless analysis of heavy elements by electron probe (July 6, 2015)

Since the development of EPMA (electron probe micro analysis) by Castaing’s PhD thesis in 1951, great efforts have been made to improve the technique.  It was believed that the use of standard samples is absolutely indispensable to the determination of the concentration of each element.  This can be a limit for some fields, such as nuclear materials application, where the quantification of minor actinides in fresh or spent fuel is demanded with no availability of any standard samples.  In France, Dr. A Moy (Universite de Montpellier) and his colleague have recently reported successful standardless analysis of Pb and U in PbS, PbTe, PbCl2, Pb5(VO4)3Cl (vanadinite), and UO2, by measuring absolute Mα and Mβ X-ray intensity by a wavelength dispersive spectrometer.  Experimentally obtained X-ray intensity was converted into absolute X-ray yields by evaluating the detector efficiency and then compared with calculated background X-ray intensity based on Monte Carlo simulations.  For more information, see the paper, "Standardless quantification of heavy elements by electron probe microanalysis", A. Moy et al., Anal. Chem. 114, 255501 (2015).

Molecular movie in femtosecond time scale (June 22, 2015)

A team led by Dr. M. Minitti (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, USA) has recently succeeded in recording the time evolution of a structural change of ring-type 1,3-cyclohexadiene gas molecule to linear 1,3,5-hexatriene.  The employment of the X-ray free-electron laser at LCLS (Linac coherent light source), Stanford allowed them to do ultra fast snapshots of X-ray scattering in several tens of fs (femtosecond) scale.  The study is based on pump-and-probe measurement; i.e., X-ray data were collected as a function of the controlled delay time between the UV pump pulse (267 nm, 65 fs, 4-8 μJ, 100 μm size) and X-ray probe pulse (8.3 keV, around 30 fs, 1012 photons/pulse, 30 μm square size).  The team established that some signals caused by structural change are found as early as 30 fs, and the reaction finishes at 200 fs.  For more information, see the paper, "Imaging Molecular Motion: Femtosecond X-Ray Scattering of an Electrocyclic Chemical Reaction", M. P. Minitti et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 255501 (2015).

Coherent X-ray diffraction imaging of bacteria (May 26, 2015)

Coherent X-ray diffraction imaging is one of a number of recently developed lens-less microscopic techniques giving 2D real space structure when combined with phase retrieval data processing.  A team in Shandong University in China has recently published an interesting observation of intact unstained magnetotactic bacteria.  It was confirmed that the reconstructed images give some intercellular structures, such as nucleoid, polyβ-hydroxybutyrate granules, and magnetosomes, which have been identified by electron microscopy.  The team was also successful in quantification of the density, i.e., it was found that the average density of magnetotactic bacteria is 1.19 g/cm3 from their data.  The experiment was done with 5 keV X-ray photons at BL29XU, SPring-8, Japan.  For more information, see the paper, "Quantitative Imaging of Single Unstained Magnetotactic Bacteria by Coherent X.ray Diffraction Microscopy", Jiadong Fan et al., Anal. Chem. 87, 5849 (2015).

Spectrally narrow X-ray pulses by manipulating Mössbauer resonance (May 22, 2015)

A research group led by Professor Jorg Evers (Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, Heidelberg, Germany) has recently reported a method for narrowing the spectral width of X-ray pulses by the use of subluminal light propagation.  So far, in visible light, slow group velocity such as 17 m/sec has been observed in low temperature sodium gas at 435 nK (see, L. V. Hau et al., Nature, 397, 594 (1999)).  The authors intend a similar effect in X-ray wavelength photons by manipulating the optical response of the 14.4 keV Mössbauer resonance of 57Fe nuclei.  The method combines coherent control, as well as cooperative and cavity enhancements of light-matter interaction in a single setup.  It was found that the reduced group velocity of the obtained X-ray pulses is lower than 10-4 of the speed of the light.  For more information, see the paper, "Tunable Subluminal Propagation of Narrow-band X-Ray Pulses", K. P. Heeg et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 203601 (2015).

Chemical state analysis of phosphorus by synchrotron X-ray fluorescence and PIXE (April 30, 2015)

A Slovenian group has recently reported the Kα and Kβ emission spectra of phosphorus, measured by monochromatic synchrotron X-rays (3 keV, at ID26, ESRF) and a 2 MeV proton beam.  They also compared them with a Density Functional Theory calculation using StoBe-deMon code (Stockholm-Berlin version of demon).  For more information, see the paper, "Chemical State Analysis of Phosphorus Performed by X.ray Emission Spectroscopy", M. Petric et al., Anal. Chem. 87, 5632 (2015).

Electrochemical X-ray fluorescence now done in situ (April 10, 2015)

Readers may remember that electrochemical X-ray fluorescence developed by Prof. Julie V. Macpherson’s group at Warwick University, England can analyze sub-ppb level heavy elements in solution (See, News in No.5, Vol.43 (2014)). Recently the research team published their successful extension of the technique to in situ time-evolution analysis.  Their electrode is a freestanding film of boron-doped diamond, and it can work also as an X-ray window.  Primary X-rays pass through the back side of the electrode and excite the heavy elements in the electrodeposit on the electrode.  In addition to quantitative analysis of a mixed solution of Hg2+, Pb2+, Cu2+, Ni2+, Zn2+, and Fe3+(all at 10 μM concentration), time-evolution analysis of electrodeposition can be a very promising application of this unique method.  For more information, see the paper, "Direct Identification and Analysis of Heavy Metals in Solution (Hg, Cu, Pb, Zn, Ni) by Use of in Situ Electrochemical X.ray Fluorescence", G. D. O’Neil et al., Anal. Chem. 87, 4933 (2015).

X-ray chemical monitoring of uranium oxide (March 18, 2015)

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have recently reported the X-ray analysis of uranium oxideα-U3O8 samples under controlled temperatures and humidities.  They found that the combined use of powder X-ray diffraction and U L-III EXAFS can help in identifying temporal changes of uranium oxide stored for a number of years.  For more information, see the paper, "Oxidation and Hydration of U3O8 Materials Following Controlled Exposure to Temperature and Humidity", A. L. Tamasi et al., Anal. Chem. 87, 4210 (2015).

Fast X-ray chopper using hard disk drive’s rotation (March 9, 2015)

A very interesting idea that proposes the use of a motor in a hard disk drive as an X-ray chopper has been recently published.  It can produce X-ray pulses of ms width and few μs rise time.  In the research, the system was used to test the response of X-ray detectors such as ionization chambers and photo diodes.  For more information, see the paper, "Hard disk drive based microsecond x-ray chopper for characterization of ionization chambers and photodiodes", O. Muller et al., Rev. Sci. Instrum. 86, 035105 (2015).


XRF article features in Spectroscopy’s celebration of 30 years (June 1, 2015)

Ms. Laura Bush, who is an editorial director of Spectroscopy, has recently published an article on the present and future of X-ray fluorescence on the occasion of Spectroscopy's celebration of 30 years.  It is a summary of her interviews with experts.  For more information, see the article, "Analysis of the State of the Art: XRF", Laura Bush, Spectroscopy, 30 (6) 86-94 (2015), which can be found online at  A PDF file can also be downloaded from iTunes.

Review paper on crystallography of correlated disorder (May 21, 2015)

Professors D. A. Keen (Rutherford Appleton Laboratory) and A. L. Goodwin (University of Oxford) have recently published an interesting review paper on disordered structures.  For many years, crystallographers have determined the structures of many complicated crystals with atomic or even sub-atomic resolution.  On the other hand, the structures of disordered systems, which lack the crystalline periodic order, are still not well understood because of the limits of the analytical technique.  Correlated disorder is a disorder, but maintains crystallographic signatures, which can be used for classifying the type of disorder.  For more information, see the paper, "The crystallography of correlated disorder", D. A. Keen and A. L. Goodwin, Nature, 521, 303 (2015).

Brookhaven National Lab’s NSLS II now open for user experiments (February 10, 2015)

National Synchrotron Light Source II of Brookhaven National Laboratory will officially start user runs from the 3rd cycle in 2015.  Seven beamlines will be commissioned in September, 2015, and a further 21 beamlines will be designed and constructed in the coming years.  The facility provides the world’s smallest electron beam emittance, resulting in the brightest X-ray source.  For more information, visit the Web page,

The following YouTube video also gives useful information.



Popular YouTube video of SLAC’s public lecture on the application of synchrotron X-ray fluorescence to paintings (July 14, 2015)

Lecture Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2015. Jerry LaRue of SLAC, delivered the SLAC public lecture, "Caught in the Act! Chemical Reactions Exposed".



Popular YouTube video of "Science of SLAC" (May 24, 2015)

Professor Yi Cui’s lecture, "Batteries for the Future: What's Possible?" (


New Products

Mythen2 X, a new microstrip detector from DECTRIS (April 16, 2015)

DECTRIS has introduced a new performance class of microstrip detectors, the Mythen2 X series.  The frame rate is 1 kHz, and the dynamic range is 24 bit.  For further information, visit the web page,

World’s first commercially available phase contrast CT from Bruker (March 25, 2015)

Bruker’s new SkyScan-1294 is based on phase-contrast imaging with polychromatic X-rays patented by the Paul Scherrer Institute at the Swiss Light Source (Zurich, Switzerland) and licensed to Bruker for commercialization.  For further information, visit the web page,



Shimadzu launches Innovation Center at its U.S. subsidiary (July 1, 2015)

Shimadzu Corporation has established the Innovation Center at Shimadzu Scientific Instruments, Inc. (SSI), its wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary based in Colombia, Maryland  For further information, visit the web page,


Rigaku acquires former Oxford Diffraction (April 30, 2015)

Rigaku Corp. has announced the completion of the acquisition of the X-ray diffraction (XRD) business from Agilent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: A).  Formerly known as Oxford Diffraction within Varian when that company was acquired by Agilent in 2010, the XRD group develops single-crystal X-ray instruments for chemical crystallography.  For further information, visit the web page,


For additional news about X-ray analysis and other spectroscopy sciences, browse the Wiley website.

Kenji Sakurai
Director, X-Ray Physics Group, National Institute for
Materials Science (NIMS)
and Professor, Doctoral Program in Materials Science and
Engineering, Graduate School of Pure and Applied Sciences,
 University of Tsukuba
1-2-1, Sengen, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-0047 Japan
Phone : +81-29-859-2821, Fax : +81-29-859-2801

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