A Quantative Basis for Hair Analysis Using PIXE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The PIXE technique offers the possibility of scanning a single hair strand longitudinally with a millimetre proton beam for trace elements. However, the accuracy of the method has been questioned since the quantification of the mass concentration has been a serious problem. In this paper a specific beam-hair-detector geometry is assumed, and the correction factor accounting for the proton energy loss and the X-ray absorption in a regular hair is calculated. 43 hair segments from 8 individuals, ranging from 45 to 110 μm in in diameter were analyzed giving a mean value of 4.32% (standard deviation 0.25%) for sulphur, and a mean value of 149 ppm (standard deviation 35 ppm) for zinc. It is shown that the correction is important not only for the determination of the absolute elemental concentrations but also for the determination of their relative longitudinal distributions. The secondary corrections accounting for the inhomogeneous elemental distribution over the cross section and the irregular shape and/or the differing mass density of a hair are also calculated. It is concluded that the accuracy and precision of the PIXE method does not become considerably lower when it is applied to single hair strands, and accuracy and precision below 10% may be reached by implementing the procedure described.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics
  • Subatomic Physics


  • multielemental analysis, PIXE, hair strands
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-256
JournalNuclear Instruments & Methods in Physics Research. Section B: Beam Interactions with Materials and Atoms
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1985
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Ergonomics and Aerosol Technology (011025002), Nuclear Physics (Faculty of Technology) (011013007)