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Tandem Probe Analysis Mode for Synchrotron XFM: Doubling Throughput Capacity

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posted on 2022-05-04, 05:23 authored by CL Doolette, DL Howard, N Afshar, Cameron KewishCameron Kewish, DJ Paterson, J Huang, S Wagner, J Santner, WW Wenzel, T Raimondo, AT De Vries Van Leeuwen, L Hou, F Van Der Bom, Zhe WengZhe Weng, PM Kopittke, E Lombi
Synchrotron-based X-ray fluorescence microscopy (XFM) analysis is a powerful technique that can be used to visualize elemental distributions across a broad range of sample types. Compared to conventional mapping techniques such as laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry or benchtop XFM, synchrotron-based XFM provides faster and more sensitive analyses. However, access to synchrotron XFM beamlines is highly competitive, and as a result, these beamlines are often oversubscribed. Therefore, XFM experiments that require many large samples to be scanned can penalize beamline throughput. Our study was largely driven by the need to scan large gels (170 cm2) using XFM without decreasing beamline throughput. We describe a novel approach for acquiring two sets of XFM data using two fluorescence detectors in tandem; essentially performing two separate experiments simultaneously. We measured the effects of tandem scanning on beam quality by analyzing a range of contrasting samples downstream while simultaneously scanning different gel materials upstream. The upstream gels were thin (<200 μm) diffusive gradients in thin-film (DGT) binding gels. DGTs are passive samplers that are deployed in water, soil, and sediment to measure the concentration and distribution of potentially bioavailable nutrients and contaminants. When deployed on soil, DGTs are typically small (2.5 cm2), so we developed large DGTs (170 cm2), which can be used to provide extensive maps to visualize the diffusion of fertilizers in soil. Of the DGT gel materials tested (bis-acrylamide, polyacrylamide, and polyurethane), polyurethane gels were most suitable for XFM analysis, having favorable handling, drying, and analytical properties. This gel type enabled quantitative (>99%) transmittance with minimal (<3%) flux variation during raster scanning, whereas the other gels had a substantial effect on the beam focus. For the first time, we have (1) used XFM for mapping analytes in large DGTs and (2) developed a tandem probe analysis mode for synchrotron-based XFM, effectively doubling throughput. The novel tandem probe analysis mode described here is of broad applicability across many XFM beamlines as it could be used for future experiments where any uniform, highly transmissive sample could be analyzed upstream in the "background"of downstream samples.


Open Access is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).


Publication Date



Analytical Chemistry






10p. (p. 4584-4593)


American Chemical Society



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Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. Permission may be obtained from ACS for other uses through requests via the RightsLink permission system:

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