Investigation of element distribution and homogeneity of TXRF samples using SR-micro-XRF to validate the use of an internal standard and improve external standard quantification
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- Horntrich, C., Smolek, S., Maderitsch, A. et al. Anal Bioanal Chem (2011) 400: 2649. doi:10.1007/s00216-010-4592-9
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Total reflection X-ray fluorescence analysis (TXRF) offers a nondestructive qualitative and quantitative analysis of trace elements. Due to its outstanding properties TXRF is widely used in the semiconductor industry for the analysis of silicon wafer surfaces and in the chemical analysis of liquid samples. Two problems occur in quantification: the large statistical uncertainty in wafer surface analysis and the validity of using an internal standard in chemical analysis. In general TXRF is known to allow for linear calibration. For small sample amounts (low nanogram (ng) region) the thin film approximation is valid neglecting absorption effects of the exciting and the detected radiation. For higher total amounts of samples deviations from the linear relation between fluorescence intensity and sample amount can be observed. This could be caused by the sample itself because inhomogeneities and different sample shapes can lead to differences of the emitted fluorescence intensities and high statistical errors. The aim of the study was to investigate the elemental distribution inside a sample. Single and multi-element samples were investigated with Synchrotron-radiation-induced micro X-ray Fluorescence Analysis (SR-μ-XRF) and with an optical microscope. It could be proven that the microscope images are all based on the investigated elements. This allows the determination of the sample shape and potential inhomogeneities using only light microscope images. For the multi-element samples, it was furthermore shown that the elemental distribution inside the samples is homogeneous. This justifies internal standard quantification.