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X-123 Complete X-Ray Spectrometer

The X-123 is a complete X-Ray Detector System in one small box that fits in your hand.

X-123 represents the culmination of years of X-ray detector development at Amptek. Our philosophy has always been to create small, low power, high performance instruments while keeping them simple to operate. The X-123 exemplifies this philosophy by providing in a single package the XR-100CR X-Ray Detector and its Charge Sensitive Preamplifier; the DP5 Digital Pulse Processor with pulse shaper, MCA, and interface; and the PC5 Power Supply. All that is needed is a +5 V DC input and a USB, Ethernet or RS-232 connection to your computer.


  • Compact integrated system                           
  • Simple to Operate                                          
  • Small Size (2.7 x 3.9 x 1 in, 7 x 10 x 2.5 cm)                                           
  • Low Power (2.5 Watts)                                 
  • Light Weight (6.3 oz, 180 g)                     
  • USB and RS-232 Communication 


  • X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF)
  • RoHS/WEEE Compliance Instrumentation
  • Process Control
  • X-Ray Sorting Machines
  • Art and Archaeology

Detector Options       


Fast SDD for X-Ray detection

  • Area: 25, 70, or 160 mm2
  • Thickness: 500 µm, or 1000um
  • Multilayer Collimator
  • Typical Performance

    • Resolution: 122 to 129 eV FWHM at 5.9 keV
    • Optimum energy range: 1 keV to 40 keV
    • Maximum count rate: > 1 x 106 cps

 Si-PIN for X-Ray detection
  • Area: 6, 13 or 25 mm2
  • Thickness: 500 µm
  • Multilayer Collimator
  • Typical Performance

    • Resolution: 139 to 260 eV FWHM at 5.9 keV
    • Optimum energy range: 1 keV to 40 keV
    • Maximum count rate: Up to 2 x 105 cps

CdTe for X-Ray and Gamma ray detection

  • Area: 25 mm2
  • Thickness: 1000 µm
  • Typical Performance

    • Resolution: <1.5keV @ Co-57 typical
    • Optimum energy range: 5 to 100 keV
    • Maximum count rate: Up to 2 x 105 cps


Specific performance details depends on detector type  and configuration, which can be optimized for special applications.

Figure 1. 55Fe Spectrum taken with a 6 mm2/500 µm Si-PIN detector.
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  • Description +

    X-123 Description

    Amptek’s specialty is X-ray spectrometers, which are small, low power, high performance, and simple to operate. The X-123 combines in a single package Amptek’s standard, high performance X-ray spectroscopy components: the XR-100CR detector and preamplifier, DP5 digital pulse processor and MCA, and PC5 power supply. The result is a complete integrated system which can fit in your hand. In many commercially available systems, the preamplifier alone has more size, mass, and power than this integrated system. It requires only 2 connections to run: +5 VDC power and a standard RS-232 or USB bus. With the X-123, anyone can rapidly obtain high quality X-ray spectra.

    The typical detector is a Si-PIN photodiode: X-rays interacting in the silicon create an average of one electron/hole pair for every 3.62 eV of energy lost in the silicon, which is the input signal.

    The detector is mounted on a thermoelectric cooler along with the input FET and coupled to a custom charge sensitive preamplifier. The thermoelectric cooler reduces the electronic noise in the detector and preamplifier, but the cooling is transparent to the user: it operates like a room temperature system. The charge-sensitive preamplifier uses a novel feedback technique, injecting reset pulses through the high voltage connection to the detector.

    The pulse processor is the DP5, a digital pulse processor which replaces both the shaping amplifier and multichannel analyzer (MCA) found in most analog systems. The use of digital technology improves several key parameters: (1) better performance, specifically better resolution and operation at higher count rates; (2) greater flexibility since more configuration options are available and they are selected by software over a RS-232 interface, and (3) improved stability and reproducibility. The DP5 digitizes the preamplifier output, applies real-time digital processing to the signal, detects the peak amplitude (digitally), and bins this value in its histogramming memory, generating an energy spectrum. The spectrum is then transmitted over the DP5’s interface to the user’s computer. The Amptek DP5 has 6 main function blocks to implement these functions: (1) an analog prefilter; (2) an ADC; (3) a digital pulse shaper; (4) pulse selection logic; (5) histogram logic, and (6) interfacing hardware (which includes a microcontroller) and software.

    The power supply is Amptek’s PC5, a single board. The input is approximately +5 VDC with a current of about 200 mA. The PC5 uses switching supplies to produce all the low voltages required for the digital processor and the preamplifier. It also includes a high voltage multiplier to produce the detector bias voltage, up to 400 V, and supply for the thermoelectric cooler which provides closed loop control with a maximum temperature differential of 85 °C. Both of these supplies are adjusted at the factory for a particular detector.

    The complete system is packaged in 7 x 10 x 2.5 cm³ aluminum box, with the detector mounted on an extender. In its standard configuration, only two connections are required: power (+5 VDC) and serial (either USB or RS-232). The DP5 board supports several additional inputs and outputs, if the X-123 will be integrated with other equipment. This includes an MCA gate, a memory buffer select signal, timing outputs, and SCA ouputs. Please contact Amptek or see the DP5 specifications for further information.

    Figure 2. X-123 Architecture and Connection Diagram

  • Specifications +

    X-123 Specifications

    System Performance

    Energy Resolution 139 to 260 eV FWHM @5.9 keV. Depends on detector, peaking time, and temperature.
    Energy Range For 0.5mm silicon based detectors, efficiency is >25% for X-rays from 1.5 to 25 keV. May be used outside this range with lower efficiency.
    For 1.0mm CdTe detectors, efficiency is >25% for X-rays from 5 to 150 keV. May be used outside this range with lower efficiency.
    Maximum Count Rate Depends on peaking time. Recommended maxima for 50% dead time with pile-up-rejection enabled are shown below.


    DP5 Peaking Time (µs) 2.4 6.4 25.6
    Shaping Time (µs) 1.0 2.9 11.6
    Recommended max rate 1.2 x 105 4.6 x 104 1.2 x 104

    Detector and Preamplifier

    For details, see the page with the associated detector

    Digital Pulse Processor

    Gain Combination of coarse and fine gain yields overall gain continuously adjustable from 0.84 to 127.5.
    Coarse Gain Software selectable from 1.12 to 102 in 16 log steps. 1.12, 2.49, 3.78, 5.26, 6.56, 8.39, 10.10, 11.31, 14.56, 17.77, 22.42, 30.83, 38.18, 47.47, 66.26, 102.0
    Fine Gain Software selectable, 0.75 to 1.25, 10 bit resolution.
    Full Scale 1000 mV input pulse @ x1 gain
    Gain Stability <20 ppm/°C (typical)
    Pulse Shape Trapezoidal
    Peaking Time 24 software selectable peaking times between 0.8 and 102 µs, approximately log spaced, corresponding to semi-gaussian shaping times of 0.4 to 45 µs.
    Dead Time Total dead time is 1.05 times the peaking time. No conversion time.
    Fast Channel Pulse Pair Resolving Time 120 ns


    Number of Channels Software selectable to: 8k, 4k, 2k, 1k, 0.5k, or 0.25k channels
    Presets Time, total counts, counts in an ROI, counts in a single channel


    USB 2.0 full speed (12 Mbps)
    Serial Standard RS-232 at 115.2k or 57.6k baud
    Ethernet 10base-T


    Nominal Input +5 VDC at 500 mA (2.5 W) (typical). Current depends strongly on detector ΔT. Ranges from 300 to 800 mA at 5 VDC. AC adapter provided.
    Input Range 4 V to 6 V (300 to 200 mA, 500 mA max)
    High Voltage Supply Internal multiplier, adjustable to 400 V
    Cooler Supply Closed loop controller with Delta_Tmax = 85 °C

    General and Environmental

    Operating temperature -30 °C to +80 °C
    Warranty Period 1 Year
    Typical Device Lifetime 5 to 10 years, depending on use
    Storage and Shipping Long term storage: 10+ years in dry environment
    Typical Storage and Shipping: -40 °C to +85 °C, 10 to 90% humidity noncondensing
    Compliance RoHS Compliant
    TUV Certification
    Certificate #: CU 72101153 01
    Tested to: UL 61010-1: 2009 R10.08
    CAN/CSA-C22.2 61010-1-04+GI1


    USB Standard USB Mini jack
    RS232 Standard 2.5 mm stereo audio jack.


    Tip Transmit To PC Receive DB9 pin 2 (DB25 pin 3)
    Ring Receive To PC Transmit DB9 pin 3 (DB25 pin 2)
    Sleeve Ground To PC Ground DB9 pin 5 (DB25 pin 7)
    Ethernet Standard Ethernet connector (RJ-45)
    Power Hirose MQ172-3PA(55), Mating plug: MQ172-3SA-CV
    Auxiliary 2 x 8 16-pin 2 mm spacing (Samtec part number ASP-135096-01). Mates with cable assembly (Samtec P/N TCMD-08-S-XX.XX-01. Top row odd pins, bottom row even pins. Top right pin = 1, bottom right pin = 2.


    Pin # Name Pin # Name
    1 SCA1 2 SCA2
    3 SCA3 4 SCA4
    5 SCA5 6 SCA6
    7 SCA7 8 SCA8
    9 AUX_IN_1 10 AUX_OUT_1
    11 AUX_IN_2 12 AUX_OUT_2
    13 IO2 14 IO3
    15 GND 16 GND

    Interface Software

    DPPMCA The X-123 can be controlled by the Amptek DPPMCA display and acquisition software. This software completely controls and configures the X-123, and downloads and displays the data. It supports regions of interest (ROI), calibrations, peak searching, and so on. The DPPMCA software includes a seamless interface to the XRF-FP quantitative X-ray analysis software package. Runs under Windows XP PRO SP3 or later. Click here for the software download page.
    SDK The X-123 comes with a free Software Developer’s Kit (SDK). The user can use this kit to easily write custom code to control the X-123 for custom applications or to interface it to a larger system. Examples are provided in VB, VC++, etc. Click here for the software download page.
    VB Demonstration Software The VB demonstration software runs on a personal computer and permits the user to set the X-123 parameters, to start and stop data acquisition, and to save data files. It is provided with source code and can be modified by the user. This software is intended as an example of how to manually control the X-123 through either the USB, RS232, or Ethernet interface using the most basic calls without the SDK. This is primarily needed as an example when writing software for non-Windows platforms. Click here for the software download page.

    Use of Collimators

    Most of Amptek’s detectors contain internal collimators to improve spectral quality. X-rays interacting near the edges of the active volume of the detector may produce small pulses due to partial charge collection. These pulses result in artifacts in the spectrum which, for some applications, obscure the signal of interest. The internal collimator restricts X-rays to the active volume, where clean signals are produced. Depending on the type of detector, collimators can

    • improve peak to background (P/B)
    • eliminate edge effects
    • eliminate false peaks

    Vacuum Operation

    The X-123 can be operated in air or in vacuum down to 10-8 Torr. The X-123 can be connected to the vacuum chamber through a standard Conflat compression O-ring port. Optional Model EXV5 (5 inch) or EXV9 (9 inch) vacuum detector extender is available for this application. See figure 5 above. Click here for more information on vacuum applications and options.

  • Options & Additional Info +


    • Alternative window options are available based on detector type.
    • Collimator Kit for high flux applications.
    • Vacuum Accessories
    • OEM Applications

    Figure 13. X-123 detector extender options.

    Figure 14. X-123 with the PA-230 preamplifier and housing (Option 6). This option features the same performance as the X-123; the detector/preamplifier have been removed from the electronics box and connected with a flexible cable. This option allows you to locate the detector remotely from its electronics box. See the OEM page for more information.

    Vacuum Operation

    The X-123 can be operated in air or in vacuum down to 10-8 Torr. The X-123 can be connected to the vacuum chamber through a standard Conflat compression O-ring port. Optional Model EXV5 (5 inch) or EXV9 (9 inch) vacuum detector extender is available for this application. See Figure 13 above. Click here for more information on vacuum applications and options.

  • Mechanicals +

    Mechanical Dimensions

    Figure 15.

    Mounting Hardware

    Figure 16. X-123 with mounting plate and right angle bracket.

    Figure 17. X-123 Mounting Plate.

    Figure 18. X-123 right angle mounting bracket.

    Download the X-123 STP File

    Download the TO-8 STP File

    Mechanical Dimensions of Amptek Si-PIN and SDD detectors

  • Documentation +