How to Begin Selecting an X-ray Source
Picking an X-ray source can be a daunting task – with all the variables and tradeoffs involved in X-ray tubes and the systems that contain them, it’s tough to know where to even begin. In today’s post, we’ll talk through the different packaged tube options available and discuss where each might fit in.
The 50kV, 50 Micron Sweet Spot
Micro X-Ray offers a range of X-ray sources that are designed to meet the diverse needs of a variety of applications. In applications where focus matters, 50kV is often a perfect voltage for our customer’s applications – high enough energy to penetrate a wide variety of common materials in various thicknesses, but low enough to make shielding a relatively straightforward affair with thin sheets of high-Z materials. A spot size around 50-100µm is another sweet spot – well focused enough to enable the high resolution images needed on modern process lines, but not so finely focused that electrostatic focusing voltages (and their complex power supplies) are required.
In the 50kV Minifocus tube category, there are several distinct product families to consider. These product families include the Minifocus Packaged Tube, the Windchill, the Aquachill, the Seeray, and the Seeray with Diamond Target. In this blog post, we’ll compare and contrast these products to help you understand which one is right for your specific application.
Because each product family contains so many options (target material, cone angle, cable lengths, etc), we won’t spend much time drilling down to particular SKUs or specific applications, but instead we’ll discuss general advantages and drawbacks of each of the product families. Once a product family or two has been identified as a good candidate for your application, reach out to Micro X-Ray and we’ll work through the rest together.
Minifocus Packaged X-ray Tube
The Minifocus Packaged X-ray Tube is an industry standard, high volume product offered by MXR. It can generally run up to 50W and has a 1W/µm power loading, with spot sizes ranging from 33µm through 250µm and a wide variety of target material choices. This product is suitable for offline applications where high resolution is important, but where shaving seconds off the measurement or exposure time isn’t the highest priority.
Actively Cooled X-ray Sources
The Windchill is a forced air-cooled X-ray source that extends maximum power of a Minifocus Packaged X-ray tube from 50W up to 150W. It uses a small oil pump to move dielectric oil through a heat exchanger to effectively cool down the X-ray tube, enabling higher power and an extended temperature range. The Windchill has a maximum 1W/µm power loading and is suitable for applications that require higher throughput than a Minifocus tube, but where the ambient temperature is still relatively cool, such as a laboratory, or a climate controlled factory floor.
The Aquachill is a water-cooled X-ray source that extends the power range of an X-ray tube from 50W up to 150W. Like the Windchill, it uses an efficient oil pump to move oil through a heat exchanger to cool down the X-ray tube. The main difference between the Aquachill and the Windchill is the cooling method used for the heat exchanger. The Aquachill uses water cooling for more efficient heat removal, making it suitable for applications where the ambient temperature may be too high for forced air cooling.
Direct Anode-Cooled X-ray Sources
The Seeray is another water-cooled X-ray source, but unlike the Aquachill which cools the tube indirectly via the oil, the Seeray incorporates direct anode water cooling for the most efficient heat removal possible in an X-ray tube. This product is useful everywhere the Aquachill is and can also provide key performance advantages in applications such as XRD and some imaging applications where focal spot drift is an issue, since the direct water-cooled anode reaches thermal equilibrium within around 5 minutes. The Seeray has a 1W/µm power loading and is suitable for applications with uncontrolled ambient operating environments where X-ray source longevity is critical.
Seeray with Diamond Target
The Seeray with Diamond Target is designed for applications where maximum brightness is required, combined with minimum spot sizes. This product is great for applications like high brightness micro XRF or single crystal XRD where high resolution and high brightness are equally important. With a 1.5W/µm power loading, the Seeray with Diamond Target provides industry-leading brightness of up to 150W in a 100µm spot size. This brightness, combined with the quick spot settling time, make it a perfect choice for coupling with X-ray optics.
MXR offers a range of X-ray sources that can meet the diverse needs of a variety of applications. Ultimately, selecting the right X-ray source will depend on the specific needs of your application, including resolution, throughput, and environmental conditions in your application. The team at Micro X-Ray is standing by to help assist you in selecting the right X-ray source for your application today.