What is X-Ray Spectroscopy – Definition

X-ray spectroscopy is a general term for several spectroscopic techniques for characterization of materials by using x-ray excitation. 

In general, spectroscopy is the science of studying the interaction between matter and radiated energy while spectrometry is the method used to acquire a quantitative measurement of the spectrum. Spectroscopy (scopy means observation) does not generate any results. It is the theoretical approach of science. Spectrometry (metry means measurement) is the practical application where the results are generated. It is the measurement of the intensity of the radiation using an electronic device. Often these terms are used interchangeably, but every spectrometry is not spectroscopy (e.g. mass spectrometry vs. mass spectroscopy).

Distinction between X-rays and gamma rays

The distinction between X-rays and gamma rays is not so simple and has changed in recent decades. Yes, X-rays are being said to have lower energies, but this is not the rule and the main difference. According to the currently valid definition, X-rays are emitted by electrons outside the nucleus, while gamma rays are emitted by the nucleus.

X-Ray Spectroscopy

X-ray spectroscopy is a general term for several spectroscopic techniques for characterization of materials by using x-ray excitation. When an electron from the inner shell of an atom is excited by the energy of a photon, it moves to a higher energy level. Since the process leaves a vacancy in the electron energy level from which the electron came, the outer electrons of the atom cascade down to fill the lower atomic levels, and one or more characteristic X-rays are usually emitted. As a result, sharp intensity peaks appear in the spectrum at wavelengths that are a characteristic of the material from which the anode target is made. The frequencies of the characteristic X-rays can be predicted from the Bohr model. Analysis of the X-ray emission spectrum produces qualitative results about the elemental composition of the specimen.


Radiation Protection:

  1. Knoll, Glenn F., Radiation Detection and Measurement 4th Edition, Wiley, 8/2010. ISBN-13: 978-0470131480.
  2. Stabin, Michael G., Radiation Protection and Dosimetry: An Introduction to Health Physics, Springer, 10/2010. ISBN-13: 978-1441923912.
  3. Martin, James E., Physics for Radiation Protection 3rd Edition, Wiley-VCH, 4/2013. ISBN-13: 978-3527411764.
  5. U.S. Department of Energy, Instrumantation and Control. DOE Fundamentals Handbook, Volume 2 of 2. June 1992.

Nuclear and Reactor Physics:

  1. J. R. Lamarsh, Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Theory, 2nd ed., Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA (1983).
  2. J. R. Lamarsh, A. J. Baratta, Introduction to Nuclear Engineering, 3d ed., Prentice-Hall, 2001, ISBN: 0-201-82498-1.
  3. W. M. Stacey, Nuclear Reactor Physics, John Wiley & Sons, 2001, ISBN: 0- 471-39127-1.
  4. Glasstone, Sesonske. Nuclear Reactor Engineering: Reactor Systems Engineering, Springer; 4th edition, 1994, ISBN: 978-0412985317
  5. W.S.C. Williams. Nuclear and Particle Physics. Clarendon Press; 1 edition, 1991, ISBN: 978-0198520467
  6. G.R.Keepin. Physics of Nuclear Kinetics. Addison-Wesley Pub. Co; 1st edition, 1965
  7. Robert Reed Burn, Introduction to Nuclear Reactor Operation, 1988.
  8. U.S. Department of Energy, Nuclear Physics and Reactor Theory. DOE Fundamentals Handbook, Volume 1 and 2. January 1993.
  9. Paul Reuss, Neutron Physics. EDP Sciences, 2008. ISBN: 978-2759800414.

See also:


We hope, this article, X-Ray Spectroscopy, helps you. If so, give us a like in the sidebar. Main purpose of this website is to help the public to learn some interesting and important information about radiation and dosimeters.