Hope College Physics Department
Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Summer 2013
Project Summary


Project Title: Differential PIXE Analysis of Multi-layer Auto Paint
Student Name: Christina Sarosiek
Student's Home Institution: Hope College
Research Advisor: Dr. Paul DeYoung and Dr. Graham Peaslee
Source of Support:

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant No. PHY-0969058.

Differential Particle Induced X-ray Emission (DPIXE) has been successful as a technique to analyze carefully-prepared multi-layer auto paint samples in a non-destructive manner. Analyzing weathered samples ripped from a car in a salvage yard, however, is more difficult. Particle Induced X-ray Emission (PIXE) involves particle beams produced by a particle accelerator in order to analyze the concentration of elements in a sample. As the beam penetrates into the sample, characteristic x-rays of various energies are emitted which correspond to different elements in the sample. DPIXE involves varying the beam energy so the beam penetrates to different depths within the sample, emitting x-rays from only the layers through which the beam has passed. Quantitative analysis begins with taking measurements of the thickness of each layer. With a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), we are able view a cross-section of paint to measure the thickness of each layer. The SEM data are systematically checked against DPIXE data. We are hoping to refine the technique and recreate the success of the carefully prepared sample with our weathered sample.

Publications and Presentations: