Uses of X-ray fluorescence
- At the most immediate level, analysis provides data on the materials of manufacture, ensuring that the museum’s records of the object are accurate.
- The instrument is a key tool for the technological investigation of objects and of the history of technology in general, by helping to build up our understanding of the historic use of materials and processes.
- Where the materials identified are not consistent with those available at the date of manufacture, this may indicate either restoration or fraudulent reproduction: Case study 14.
- Through investigation of composition, it is often possible to suggest the original appearance of an object that has undergone visual change, due to corrosion, wear or deliberate alteration: Case study 4.
- The identification of materials and the presence of surface coatings, often where they are no longer visible, allows best conservation practice to be followed: Case study 2.
- By enabling the detection of certain hazardous materials, such as mercury, cadmium and arsenic, it contributes to the health and safety of museum staff and visitors.
- As a unique facility it has enabled high profile “discoveries”, providing publicity and academic kudos for the museum: Case study 2.