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Mini-X2 X-Ray Tube


The Mini-X2 is a miniature X-ray tube system which includes the X-ray tube, the power supply, the control electronics, and the USB communications to the computer.  It is optimized for compact X-ray fluorescence (XRF) applications.  The Mini-X2 has been designed to simplify the XRF process by providing a grounded anode, USB control of current and voltage, a simple collimator mount on 50kV models, and ease of operation.

The Mini-X2 consists of two components: the Mini-X2 X-ray tube module and the Mini-X2 Controller.  The X-ray tube module includes the tube and high voltage power supply. 
Several different options are available: 


Max HV 50kV 70kV
Max Power 4W 10W 10W
Anode Ag, Au, Rh, or W Ag, Au, Rh, or W Au, Rh, or W

The Controller includes the USB communications and software control.  It can be configured, via software, to support any of the X-ray tube modules.  A 10 pin flex cable connects the Controller and the X-ray tube module. Connections to the Controller are 12 VDC power, USB for command and control, and an AUX connector with a safety interlock and a driver for a warning light.

 The Mini-X2 is a replacement for Amptek’s previous Mini-X product family.  The X-ray Tube Module is similar to the previous Mini-X-OEM. 

The Controller has significantly improved control features, including software configurability and faster control and readback.  It utilizes a completely different software interface, based upon the FW6 protocol used with Amptek’s digital pulse processors.

Convenient  threads for attaching collimators or filters are available on all 50kV models.  



  • 4 or 10 W Output Power
  • 10 to 50 kV or 35 to 70 kV
  • 5 to 200 µA (See isopower curves)
  • Ag, Rh, Au, or W Target (Ag not available in 70kV)
  • USB Controlled


  • X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF)
  • Portable and bench top instruments
  • Online processing
  • Teaching labs
Figure 1a. Mini-X2 Silver (Ag) X-Ray Output Spectrum at 50 kV.
Figure 1b. Mini-X2 Gold (Au) X-ray Output spectrum at 50 kV.

Output Spectrum with silver (Ag) target (left) and gold (Au) target (right).  These were measured using a 1 mm thick CdTe detector located 1 meter from the Mini-X2 with a 1 mm pinhole collimator (made from tungsten) in front of the detector.

The Mini-X2 is based on the Newton Scientific Inc. miniature X-ray source.    The Mini-X2 has replaced the Mini-X(orig); for information on the original Mini-X, see this link.

  • Configuration and Options +

    Figure 2. Mini-X2 block diagram.

    Mini-X2 X-ray Tube

    Anode material:  The Mini-X2 X-ray Tube is available with one of four anode materials:  silver (Ag), gold (Au), rhodium (Rh), and tungsten (W).  (Ag not available in 70kV)

    Maximum Power:  The Mini-X2 X-ray Tube is available with maximum power of 4 W or 10 W.

    Maximum HV:  Mini-X2 X-ray Tube is available with an HV range of either 10 to 50 kV or 35 to 70 kV.

    • Note that the mechanical dimensions depend on the HV and power options.
    • Note that the higher power and/or HV variants require more radiation shielding than the lower power and/or HV variants.
    • Note that the 70kV tube does not have a threaded nozzle for attaching collimators or filters.

    X-ray tube interface:  The Mini-X2 interfaces with X-ray tubes supplied by NSI (Newton Scientific).  Their standard tubes use an analog interface while their new UltraMini tubes use a digital (I2C) interface.  Both are supported by the Mini-X2 Controller.

    Mini-X2 Controller

    There is a single Mini-X2 Controller which interfaces with all the Mini-X2 X-ray Tube modules.  Each Controller is programmed, at Amptek, for a specific X-ray Tube module, with its P/N, S/N, maximum kV, maximum power, etc.  Amptek’s Firmware Manager software can be used to reconfigure the Controller for a different tube.

    Amptek’s standard Mini-X2 Controller supports only USB communication and only the standard X-ray tubes.  Contact Amptek for Controllers which interface with the UltraMini and/or which support an RS232 interface.

    Vacuum Options

    Amptek offers a vacuum feedthrough port for the Mini-X2 50kV units which allows customers to bring an x-ray source into a vacuum environment.  There are 2 sizes, one for the 50kV 4W tubes, and one for the 50kV 10W tubes.  
      50kV, 4W Mini-X2 uses the CP100 vacuum feedthrough 
      50kV, 10W Mini-X2 uses the CP125 vacuum feedthrough 

  • Specifications +


       50kV 70kV 
    Target Material Silver (Ag), Gold (Au), Rhodium (Rh), Tungsten (W) Gold (Au), Rhodium (Rh), Tungsten (W)
    Target Thickness Ag and Rh = 0.75 µm (±0.1 µm)
    Au and W = 1.00 µm (±0.1 µm)
    Tube voltage 10 to 50 kV 35 to 70 kV
    Tube current 5 µA min / 200 µA max
    See Figure 2 below
    5 µA min / 200 µA max
    See Figure 2 below
    Approximate Dose Rate Ag and Rh: 1 Sv/h (100 Rem/hr) @ 30 cm on axis, 50 kV and 80 µA
    Au and W: 2.2 Sv/h (220 Rem/hr) @ 30 cm on axis, 50 kV and 80 µA
    data unavailable
    Continuous Output Power 4 W or 10 W max at 100% duty cycle
    See Figure 2 below
    10 W max at 100% duty cycle
    See Figure 2 below
    Window Material Beryllium (Be); window at ground  Beryllium (Be); window at ground
    Window Thickness 125 µm  125 µm
    Focal Spot Size Approximately 2 mm  
    Cathode Type Tungsten (W) filament  Tungsten (W) filament
    HV Polarity Grounded anode
     Grounded anode
    High Voltage Stability <0.1%  <0.1%
    Output Flux Stability <0.3% (temperature stabilized)  <0.3% (temperature stabilized)
    Output Cone Angle 120° (See figures 3 and 4 below)  120° (See figures 3 and 4 below)
    Cooling Air Cooled  Air Cooled
    Leakage Radiation at 5 cm
    with safety plug installed
    <5 µSv/h (0.5 mrem/h) no safety plug attachment
    Power Consumption 4 W tubes: 9 W  @ full power
    10 W tubes: 18 W @ full power
     10 W tubes: 18 W @ full power
    Input Voltage 12 VDC (AC adapter included)  12 VDC (AC adapter included)
    Control USB, mini-USB connector (cable included)  USB, mini-USB connector (cable included)
    Settling Time Typical <1 s  Typical <1 s
    Weight ~400 grams  <700 grams
    Humidity 30 to 90% noncondensing  30 to 90% noncondensing
    Operating Temperature Range -10 °C to +50 °C  -10 °C to +50 °C
    Storage Temperature Range -25 °C to +60 °C  -25 °C to +60 °C
    Safety Controls and Indicators 1) External Hardware Interlock
    2) Flashing LED
    3) Beeper
    1) External Hardware Interlock
    2) Flashing LED
    3) Beeper
    Software Mini-X2 Control software to control voltage and current.
    Mini-X2 API for custom programming applications.
    Mini-X2 Control software to control voltage and current.
    Mini-X2 API for custom programming applications.
    Warranty One year or 2000 hours, whichever comes first One year or 2000 hours, whichever comes first

    Specifications, terms and pricing subject to change.

    Figure 2. Mini-X2 Isopower. The current and voltage must be set in accordance with this curve or the Mini-X2 may be severely damaged.  Damage of this kind is not covered under warranty.  Amptek’s control software limits the power to this curve.  If one commands the system to a power exceeding the power limit, the software will use the commanded HV and rollback the current to meet the power limit.  Note that the curves differ based on the tube.

    Figure 3. Mini-X2 Angular Response, 120° cone.

    Figure 4. Mini-X2 120° cone.
    NOTE: The x-ray cone angle can be reduced when using collimators, see below for approximate references.

    collimator diameter  x-ray cone angle
     1mm  3°
     2mm  5°
     3mm  8°

    Figure 5. Mini-X2 Controller connectors.

    Figure 6. Mini-X2 software control panel.

    Vacuum Application

    The Mini-X2 can be configured with a standard conflat for vacuum applications.

    Figure 7. Mini-X2 and X-123SDD with vacuum couplings.

    Additional Information

    Use of Mn secondary target to mimic 55Fe source

    How to chose the anode material for an X-Ray tube

  • Mini-X2 Design +

    X-ray tube

    The heart of the Mini-X2 is a compact X-ray tube which uses a transmission target.  The high voltage power supply (HVPS) produces a bias voltage between the target (which is grounded) and the filament.  This voltage accelerates electrons produced at the filament into the target.  When these electrons decelerate in the target material, they produce bremsstrahlung radiation, X-rays with a continuous energy spectrum.  They also produce X-rays at the characteristic energy of the target material.  Many of these X-rays are directed towards the window, made of Be (beryllium), where they can be collimated into the sample.  The X-ray tube contains shielding which stops X-rays outside of the 120o cone.

    High Voltage Power Supply

    The HVPS takes the 12 VDC input and steps it up to the commanded bias (10kV to 50kV).  It is a switch mode regulator with a conventional Cockcroft-Walton multiplier, operating between 40 and 100 kHz.

    There are three inputs to the HVPS:  an analog voltage which sets the HV, an analog voltage which sets the current, and an ON/OFF logic signal.  The HV and current signals have a range of 0 to 4V, which correspond to the HPVS settings: a 2V input to the HV results in a half-scale output of 25 kV.  There are three outputs from the HVPS: an analog voltage reading the HV, an analog voltage reading the current, and a STATUS logic signal.  These have the same scale factors as the inputs.

    The Mini-X2 X-ray tube modules are supplied by NSI.  NSI’s standard X-ray tube modules have analog inputs and outputs, which are the Mini-X2 Controller’s standard inputs and outputs.  NSI has recently released a smaller tube, called the “UltraMini”, which uses a digital I2C interface.  Amptek’s Mini-X2 controller can also support the I2C interface to the UltraMini.

    Mini-X2 Controller

    The Controller takes the control values commanded via USB and uses these to set the proper control voltages and to send the ON/OFF command.  It also reads the outputs.  There are a few key details to the control and interface module:

    • The interlock circuit is very important, both for radiation safety and for successful operation of the Mini-X2. Please refer to sections 4.2 and 8.2 for details.
    • The software compares the commanded values for HV and current to the outputs. If the inputs and outputs differ (outside of tolerance limits and sustained for a certain time), the HVPS is disabled.
    • The Mini-X2 Controller is based on a Silicon Labs 8051 microcontroller, running the same communications software as Amptek’s digital pulse processors (DP5, X123, PX5, etc). This software interface is called FW6 and is described in the Amptek Digital Products Programmer’s Guide.

    Safety Interlock

    The AUX connector on the Mini-X2 Controller contains a safety interlock,
    designed for use with a failsafe warning lamp. A typical application
    circuit is sketched below. The controller applies a configurable voltage
    across the external interlock circuit and monitors the current; the tube is
    only enabled if the current is within a programmable range. It turns off
    if the switch is open or if the lamp fails.

    Warning lamp and beeper

    The Mini-X2 controller includes an LED and a beeper which indicate that the tube’s HV and current are enabled. They flash/beep at about 1 Hz. The safety interlock drives a lamp with a failsafe circuit. See the Mini-X2 User Manual for warning lamp technical specifications.

  • Output Spectra +

    Figure 7. Mini-X2 Gold (Au) Output Spectrum at 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 kV.

    Figure 8. Mini-X2 Silver (Ag) Output Spectrum at 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 kV.

    Figure 9. Relative Output Spectra: Ag and Au Targets. Spectra taken at 50 kV/20 µA for 10 minutes (no collimator).  Note that the Au tube gives 3 times more counts for the same current and time. This is because the bremsstrahlung increases for increasing Z.

  • Filters +

    Mini-X2 Silver (Ag) Output Spectra with Various Filters

    Figure 10. Mini-X2 Ag Output Spectrum with 3 mil Cu Filter.

    Figure 11. Mini-X2 Ag Output Spectrum with 2 mil Mo Filter.

    Figure 12. Mini-X2 Ag Output Spectrum with 1 mil Ag Filter.

    Figure 13. Mini-X2 Ag Output Spectrum with 1 mil W + 10 mil Al Filter.

    Figure 14. Mini-X2 Ag Output Spectrum with 80 mil Al Filter.

    Mini-X2 Gold (Au) Output Spectra with Various Filters

    Figure 15. Mini-X2 Au Output Spectrum with 3 mil Cu Filter.

    Figure 16. Mini-X2 Au Output Spectrum with 2 mil Mo Filter.

    Figure 17. Mini-X2 Au Output Spectrum with 1 mil Ag Filter.

    Figure 18. Mini-X2 Au Output Spectrum with 1 mil W + 10 mil Al Filter.

    Figure 19. Mini-X2 Au Output Spectrum with 80 mil Al Filter.

    The above spectra have not been normalized (i.e. not taken at the same current for the same time etc.). They have been provided only to show the shape of the spectrum and demonstrate how a filter can be used to obtain a beam specific to an application. Keep in mind that when any filter is used it reduces the flux coming out of the tube. An Al filter reduces the flux much less than a W or Ag filter. The higher the Z of the filter or the thicker the filter, the less flux will be available. It is therefore necessary to raise the current of the x-ray tube to compensate.

    The above spectra were taken with the Amptek XR-100T-CdTe detector, a PX5 digital processor and power supply, and the silver (Ag) and gold (Au) versions of the Mini-X. In the spectra above there are notches observed at 26.7 and 31.8 keV. These are the Cd and Te K absorption edges. The XRS-FP software was used to correct the escape peaks generated in the detector. Please see application note ANCDTE1 for more information on the effects of the CdTe detector on the output spectrum.

    The following filters are provided with the Mini-X2:

    Material Thickness (µm/mils) # Provided
    Al 1016/40 5
    Al 254/10 5
    Cu 25.4/1 3
    Mo 25.4/1 2
    Ag 25.4/1 1
    W 25.4/1 1

    Why should I use a filter on the X-ray tube?

    • The primary beam filter, the filter on the X-ray tube, improves the signal to background ratio for the characteristic X-ray peaks one wants to measure. The tube produces X-rays over a wide range of energies, including many low energy brehmstrahlung X-rays and characteristic X-rays from the target. These scatter from the target, obscuring the peaks to be measured. The filter absorbs the lower energy X-rays, which do not excite the X-rays one wants to measure anyway, thus improving the signal to background ratio for the peaks of interest.
    • They can filter the characteristic lines of the tube’s target. For example, in figures 20 and 21 a filter is used which cleanly cuts low energy photons up to about 12-15 keV. This removes the gold (Au) L lines from the tube at 9.71 and 11.44 keV. Figure 15 above shows a Cu filter which cleans the low energy photons but also creates a clean region above 10 keV.

    Figure 20. This figure shows the output spectrum of the Mini-X2-Ag at 40 kV unfiltered, and filtered with 80 mils (2 mm) of aluminum (Al). In the unfiltered spectrum, a large fraction of brehmstrahlung counts are at low energy (between 5 and 15 keV), which are removed in the filtered spectrum.

    Figure 21. Shows spectra measured from a lead target using the unfiltered and filtered tube. With no filter, the lead characteristic X-rays are superimposed on a large background of scattered X-rays. With a filter, the signal to background ratio is significantly improved. This will reduce the measurement uncertainty in these lines. Notice how the L-gamma line is much more visible in the filtered spectrum than in the un-filtered.




    Filters on an X-Ray Tube Application Note in PDF

  • Collimator & Safety Plug +

    Collimator and Safety Plug

    The 50kV models of Mini-X2 are provided with two collimators to facilitate its use in XRF applications. They consist of a brass collimator with aluminum (Al) inserts and a cover that screws into the Mini-X2. The collimators have 1 and 2 mm diameter holes. A brass safety plug is also provided which, when installed, reduces the flux from an operating tube to less than 25 µSv/h (2.5 mrem/hr) at 5 cm away in accordance with requirement of the NBS Handbook for Radiation Safety for X-Ray Diffraction and Fluorescence Analysis Equipment.

    Figure 22. Mini-X2 collimator and safety plug.

    Figure 23. Mini-X2 with safety plug installed.

    Figure 24. Mini-X2 with collimator installed.

  • Radiation Info +


    This device produces X-Rays when energized. To be operated only by qualified personnel.

    Radiation Precautions

    The Mini-X2 is intended to generate x-ray radiation during normal operation. The Mini-X2 has been designed to focus radiation in the designated output direction, however radiation in other directions is possible and should be addressed with shielding and/or monitoring in the final application.

    Radiation Levels

    Radiation levels external to the X-ray tube housing with the brass safety plug ON do not exceed 25 µSv/h (2.5 mrem/h) measured 5 cm from the surface of the housing in accordance with Requirement of the National Bureau of Standards (NBS) Handbook for Radiation Safety for X-Ray Diffraction and Fluorescence Analysis Equipment.

    For more information please see the NBS Handbook.

    Examples of Shielding (that comply with the above standard) for a 50 kV tube running at 80 µA (4W).

    Note that 10W or 70 kV tubes will need more shielding.

    • 1 mm (0.040 in of Pb will result in radiation levels of 0.5 mrem/h.
    • 6.35 mm (0.250 in) of Fe will result in radiation levels of 0.5 mrem/h.
    • 3.18 mm (0.125 in of Brass will result in radiation levels of 2.5 mrem/h.

    The inside of the housing can also be lined with 3.18 mm (0.125 in) of aluminum (Al) in order to absorb the XRF from the shielding material.

    The shielding needs to fully enclose the X-ray cone and sample.  X-rays are scattered in all directions, 4π steradians.  In many cases, the most intense radiation hazard is from backscattered radiation (often where the operator is located).  Any gaps in the shielding, e.g. for the tube or a spectrometer or sensor wires, will pass radiation.  Where possible, use a jog in such gaps rather than a direct path.

  • Mechanicals +


    Mini-X2 4W 50kV mechanical drawing

    Figure 26a (above). Mini-X2 4W 50kV mechanical dimensions (inches).

    Figure 26b (above). Mini-X2 10W 50kV mechanical dimensions (in [mm]). 
    *Diagram does not show the included threaded collimator adapter.  The standard versions of the 50kV tubes do include the threaded collimator adapters. 
    (drawing detail on the 4W 50kV tube)

    Figure 26c (above). Mini-X2 10W 70kV mechanical dimensions (in [mm]). 
    Threaded collimator adapter is not included on the 70kV model.  

    Figure 27. Nickel plated brass collimator cover mechanical dimensions (mils/mm).

    Mini-X2 STP files Download Link

  • Documentation +