Cesareo, Roberto (2014) Thickness and composition of gold and silver alloys determined by combining EDXRF-analysis and transmission measurements. X-Ray Spectrometry, Vol. 43 (6), p. 312-315. eISSN 1097-4539. Article.
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Energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence (EDXRF)-analysis is a technique which in the case of metals analyzes thin surface layers. For example, when gold and silver alloys are analyzed, it typically interests a depth of microns up to a maximum of tens of microns. Therefore, it can give wrong results or be affected by a large indetermination when the sample composition is altered because of surface processes, as often happens when silver alloys are oxidated, and sometimes in the case of gold alloys rich on copper or silver. A complementary technique was therefore developed, of bulk analysis, which uses the same equipment employed for EDXRF-analysis; the X-ray beam from the X-ray tube is monochromatized by means of a tin secondary target, which K lines bracket the silver-K discontinuity. The sample to be analyzed is positioned between the secondary target and the detector. This technique is able to determine (by measuring the attenuation of tin-K rays) thickness and/or composition of gold and silver alloys having a thickness of less than about 120 µm for gold and about 0.7 mm for silver. The method was tested with Au–Ag–Cu alloys of known composition and thickness and then applied to gold and silver artifacts from the tomb of the Lady of Cao, which belongs to the Moche pre-hispanic culture from the North of Peru, and dates about 300 A.D.
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