Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Physics and Astronomy

First Advisor

Mike Vineyard




proton, x-rays, energy, spectroscopy


Proton-induced X-ray emission (PIXE) spectroscopy is a powerful tool used in the Union College Ion-Beam Analysis Laboratory for the elemental analysis of environmental pollution. Samples are bombarded with proton beams from the 1.1‐MV Pelletron accelerator and characteristic X-rays emitted from the samples are detected, resulting in X-ray energy spectra. These spectra are analyzed using software packages that fit the data and calculate the concentrations of elements in the samples. I have performed a comparative study of two of the most popular software packages, GUPIX and GeoPIXE, in the analysis of atmospheric aerosol samples to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each and determine which is the best package to use in our analysis. While GeoPIXE has transparency in the way it deals with its fit of the background, GUPIX is the far more trustworthy and consistent of the two software packages.