Applications of synchrotron μ-XRF to study the distribution of biologically important elements in different environmental matrices: A review


Environmental matrices including soils, sediments, and living organisms are reservoirs of several essential as well as non-essential elements. Accurate qualitative and quantitative information on the distribution and interaction of biologically significant elements is vital to understand the role of these elements in environmental and biological samples. Synchrotron micro-X-ray fluorescence (μ-SXRF) allows in situ mapping of biologically important elements at nanometer to sub-micrometer scale with high sensitivity, negligible sample damage and enable tuning of the incident energy as desired. Beamlines in the synchrotron facilities are rapidly increasing their analytical versatility in terms of focusing optics, detector technologies, incident energy, and sample environment. Although extremely competitive, it is now feasible to find stations offering complimentary techniques like micro-X-ray diffraction (μ-XRD) and micro-X-ray absorption spectroscopy (μ-XAS) that will allow a more complete characterization of complex matrices. This review includes the most recent literature on the emerging applications and challenges of μ-SXRF in studying the distribution of biologically important elements and manufactured nanoparticles in soils, sediments, plants, and microbes. The advantages of using μ-SXRF and complimentary techniques in contrast to conventional techniques used for the respective studies are discussed.

Document Type





Biological important elements, Distribution, Nanoparticles, Synchrotron micro-X-ray fluorescence, X-ray absorption spectroscopy

Publication Date


Journal Title

Analytica Chimica Acta