IPERION HSIntegrating Platforms for the European Research Infrastructure ON Heritage Science

Particle Induced X-ray Emission (PIXE)

Particle-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) is a technique used to determine the elemental make-up of a material or sample. When a particle interacts with an atom,its electrons from inner electronic layer can be ejected. Other electrons from upper electronic levels will replace the missing ones, genereting X-rays. The energy of such X-rays depends on the nature of the atom. PIXE enables to identify and quantify chemical elements from Na to U for major, minor and trace elements, the latter meaning their quantity is at the ppm (part per million) scale. PIXE is a powerful yet non-destructive elemental analysis technique now used routinely by geologists, archaeologists, art conservators and others. By scanning the surface of the object with a focused ion beam 2D information about the elemental distribution can be achieved with micrometer spatial resolution in vacuum, circa 25 µm under helium atmosphere. In air, the the resolution is less favourable and some lighter elements cannot be detected by the method. On the other hand, the in-air set-up make it possible to analyse larger or sensitive objects. The elemental composition may indicate the provenance, manufacturing process and technology, workshop, date of production, authenticity, etc of the object.

Fields of application

  • Cultural heritage

    architecture, art, decorative arts, demo anthropologic object, manuscript, mosaics, musical instrument, other, painting, papyrus, sculpture, textile, archaeological object


  • inorganic

    glass, stone, metal and metallurgical By-Products, ceramic (clay, mud brick, terracotta, earthenware, stoneware, porcelain), pigment

  • organic

    animal parts, binding media, glues, wood, paper, textiles, varnishes


Scanning Nuclear Microprobe

The Oxford type scanning nuclear microprobe is operated at one of the beamlines of our particle accelerator. The beam diameter is about 1-3 microns for the usual applications in vacuum. The microprobe is equipped with a 5-axis goniometer (X-Y-Z translations and two rotations, to move the sample into the required position), optical microscope, cameras and...

Contact person
Zita Szikszai
Wigner FK PIXE external milli-beam setup

The external milli-beam PIXE setup is located at the 5MV Van de Graaff accelerator of Wigner FK (Wigner Research Centre) The properly collimated proton beam of 2-3 MeV energy is extracted from the evacuated beam pipe to air through a 7.5 micrometer thick Kapton foil. Target-window distance of 10 mm was chosen for the measurements...

Archive image

Type and energy of particles: protons or deuterons from 1 to 4MeV or Alphas from 2 to 6MeV for Alphas. Beam size: down to 20µm. Single spot or mapping on areas up to cm²-sized area (max 20x20cm²). PIXE system: 5 SDD detectors, one with a deflecting magnet and an Helium flux for low energy X-Ray...