X-rays are probably one of the most well-known forms of electromagnetic radiation, perhaps second only to the visible light spectrum. There are a lot of reasons for this widespread knowledge of X-rays, from medical procedures to entertainment. After all, who hasn’t heard about Superman’s X-ray vision. However, X-rays do a lot more for us in society, and many people don’t even know it.

Understanding X-Rays

When it comes to an understanding all of the good that X-rays do for us every day, you are first going to need to get a better understanding of how X-rays actually work. See, X-rays are a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is essentially a way to refer to waves of energy. The energy of the wave determines which part of the spectrum it belongs to and how it interacts with the world around it. 

The light you see is actually a part of this spectrum, and each different color of light has a different energy level. These different energy levels mean they interact with objects differently, and that is why your jeans are blue, and your grass is green. X-rays just have more energy than light, so we can’t see them with our eyes, but we can make technology to detect them, and this is where their usefulness comes in.

Because X-rays have so much more energy than light, they interact with objects differently, and that can be really useful. X-rays will pass through less dense materials, like your skin and muscles, but will be absorbed by denser materials like your bones and metal, which is how X-rays can be used medically to take a look inside of you. However, these properties of X-rays mean they can be used for a whole lot more.

Scientific Analysis with X-Rays

Scientific research and discovery make use of X-rays a lot for plenty of different purposes. In fact, the unique absorption properties of X-rays are often used in a technique called X-ray spectroscopy. X-ray spectroscopy is a general term for a scientific technique that characterizes materials using x-ray radiation and a device called an X-ray spectrometer, which companies such as malvernpanalytical.com make a business out of producing.

The Power of Spectroscopy. From X-ray fluorescence, which is the emission of X-rays by a material, to energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, these techniques can be used to accurately analyze the properties of all sorts of materials.

Additional Uses of X-rays

Finally, beyond science or medicine, X-rays are used for many other purposes, to great effect.

Identification of Dangerous Items. If you’ve ever been through airport security, you already know how incredibly beneficial X-rays can be in the identification of dangerous items, such as weapons and explosives.

Identifying Counterfeit Art. What’s more, X-rays are actually often used in expert analysis of historical paintings due to their ability to identify counterfeit art. This is done by revealing evidence of a picture being painted over and changed during the process of creation, which can help to show the evolution of a piece and suggest authenticity.