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What's that made of? Modelling muonic X-ray radiation for quantitative elemental analysis

Supervisors: Albert Bartok-Partay and Nicholas Hine

Figure: Muonic capture process showing the process that causes X-Ray emission (left). Example of muonic X-ray spectra of Roman coins from Tiberius (centre) and Julian (right) periods. This experiment determined the presecence of gold in both coins, with a double peak at 400 keV and 406 keV and a gamma peak at 355 keV. The surface composition (yellow) is representative of the interior composition (red). Figures taken from Appl. Sci. 2022, 12(9), 4237.

Supervisors: Albert Bartok-Partay, Nicholas Hine


Muonic X-ray elemental analysis is a non-destructive technique that can be used to study the elemental composition of a whole sample: from micrometres down to centimetres below its surface. Some of the current applications of this technique are to determine the composition of ancient archaeological samples, which cannot sustain any type of physical damage, and also to study meteorites, biological samples and functional materials. This project aims to develop a robust method to model the muonic X-ray spectra quantitatively. This can be achieved by numerically solving the Dirac equation, that describes all the muon transitions occurring in the experiment. The theoretical and methodological developments will be implemented in MuDirac, which is a modern, open-source, sustainable software tool that is being used to aid in muonic X-ray elemental analysis.

Are you interested in applying for this project? Head over to our Study with Us page for information on the application process, and the HetSys training programme.

For the 2023/24 academic year, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding is open to both UK and International research students. Awards pay a stipend to cover maintenance as well as paying the university fees and providing a research training support grant. For further details, please visit the HetSys Funding Page

At the University of Warwick, we strongly value equity, diversity and inclusion, and HetSys will provide a healthy working environment dedicated to outstanding scientific guidance, mentorship and personal development. Read more about life in the HetSys CDT here.

HetSys is proud to be a part of the Physics Department which holds an Athena SWAN Silver award, a national initiative to promote gender equality for all staff and students. The Physics Department is also a Juno Champion, which is an award from the Institute of Physics to recognise our efforts to address the under-representation of women in university physics and to encourage better practice for both women and men.