Project Details Trace elements analysis of environmental samples with X-rays: from synchrotron to lab and from lab to synchrotron

Project No.:
Start Date:
17 October 2016
End Date:
Division Name:
Chemistry and the Environment Division
Division No.:


The use of synchrotron X-ray facilities for analyses of trace elements in environmental samples has become a modern tool for scientists around the world. However, recent technological improvements have been introduced in laboratory systems allowing in-house applications of techniques previously available only at synchrotron storage rings.

We propose the organization of a special symposium to be held during the next ICOBTE Conference to present the latest innovations in laboratory X-ray analysis instruments and their use in trace element analysis. This symposium also aims at informing the audience about the advantages and limitations of such instruments, and where scientists can use or purchase them.


The use of synchrotron X-ray facilities for analyses of trace elements in environmental samples has become a modern tool for scientists around the world. Information on both the concentration and the speciation of trace constituents is employed to unravel a number of chemical processes and transformations occurring on different length scales that cannot be studied with conventional laboratory instruments. However, the number of requests for beamtime at synchrotrons has increased exponentially in the last years making it increasingly difficult to obtain access to these large facilities. On the other hand, recent technological improvements, for example in X-ray sources, X-ray optics and detectors (many of which were pioneered at synchrotron facilities) have been introduced in laboratory systems. Nowadays, these instrumental advancements allow scientists to perform sophisticated X-ray analyses without the need of a synchrotron source and they can also provide robust preliminary data to justify synchrotron experiments.

Many scientists are not sufficiently aware that answers to many of their questions can be determined with current laboratory X-ray techniques at public and private labs without the long application procedures needed to obtain beamtime at synchrotrons and associated limitations in measurement time.

In this Symposium, the most relevant advances in X-ray analysis at the laboratory scale will be presented, as well as their applications as both stand alone instruments and in preparing and/or supporting synchrotron experiments. In particular, new developments in the fields of X-ray diffraction, X-ray fluorescence, and X-ray absorption tomography will be discussed, with a special emphasis on spatially resolved microscopic and submicroscopic analyses of minor and trace elements in environmental matrices.


A Special Symposium on “Trace elements analysis of environmental samples with X-rays” will be organized during the International Conference on the Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements (ICOBTE 2017), Zurich, Switzerland, 16-20 July 2017 –

See Symposium announcement [http://icobte2017.ch

May 2017 – Symposium announcement published in Chem Int Apr 2017, p. 44:

Page last updated 26 May 2017