Ultra-portable micro-XRF mapping for Cultural Heritage

microScaniX is a miniaturized X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) instrument designed for field and laboratory work, with an emphasis on portability, high resolution and high throughput. The instrument is intended for scientists seeking a high performance portable XRF solution. Micro XRF systems using high performance polycapillary optics can now be safely and easily deployed in the field.

microScaniX was developed in collaboration with NASA and LAMS (Sorbonne Université-CNRS, France). Like with other eXaminArt products, the technology at the base of microScaniX derives from NASA planetary instrument developments programs, and brings unprecedented miniaturization and ruggedness to Cultural Heritage Research.

Technical details

  • The emission of a miniature X-ray tube is efficiently concentrated on a small spot of the object using an optimized polycapillary optic lens. This sharp illumination is >10,000 times brighter that a pinhole based system providing similar resolution.
  • XRF emission of the sample is collected by a high performance Silicon Drift Detector (SDD) capable of a resolution <125 eV FWHM at 5.9 keV, and counts rates up to 1,000,000 cps. This allows for very high S/N point measurements, and short dwell times when 2D scanning.
  • The acquisition speed of the instrument is much greater than pin-hole based instruments, allowing fast mapping at higher resolution.
  • X-ray fluorescence maps can be produced by simply plotting the integral signal in an energy window (such as an element K peaks). 
  • More advanced elemental composition maps are obtained by fitting the full spectrum of each pixel with a fundamental parameter model, allowing the computation of precise elemental compositions. The Open Source software PyMCA, developed by ESRF (Sole et al. 2007), is recommended for this type of analysis.

Pictures of the first micro ScaniX prototype co-developed with LAMS, featuring a custom 10 W – 30 kV (30 W – 40 kV possible) X-ray source with polycapillary optic, high performance SDD, and alignment lasers.

The analytical head is placed on a high precision motorized X-Y stage (150×150 mm2 and 300×300 mm2 versions available).

The commercial microScaniX is a miniaturized version of this system with smaller X-ray tube (10 W – 30 kV), optimized optics and SDD module separated from its control unit.

Data example

Analysis of a Sèvres porcelain plate, with gold decoration on dark blue background, XIXth century.

Integral spectrum fundamental parameter fit (PyMCA)

100×100 pixels, 0.05 mm/step, 0.1 s per point, total acquisition time: 17 minutes 

Commercial launch in 2020

Contact us for more information.

Primary partners

  • CNRS – Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France)
  • LAMS – Laboratoire d’Archéologie Moléculaire et Structurale (France)
  • NASA (USA)


V.A. Solé, E. Papillon, M. Cotte, Ph. Walter, J. Susini, A multiplatform code for the analysis of energy-dispersive X-ray fluorescence spectra, Spectrochim. Acta Part B 62 (2007) 63-68.