Theory of XRF

To understand x-ray fluorescence, an understanding of atomic structure is required. As much of the nomenclature of XRF spectroscopy has its roots in the history of the theory of atomic structure, an understanding of the historical development is helpful. The development of atomic structural theory can be broken down into three basic steps:

With an understanding of atomic structure, an examination of atomic transitions reveals the origin of characteristic x-ray emission from an atom.

Once the fluorescence of a single atom is understood, the theory of XRF requires an examination of the interatomic effects on the fluorescent radiation. These interatomic effects are termed 'matrix effects', and account for the observed radiation from a sample undergoing fluorescence without account for surface scattering and instrument effects.

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