Chilean police bring out the big guns, aka SciAps X-550

May 4, 2023

On April 11, 2023, SciAps X-550 was used in an investigation with the Chilean Investigations Police (PDI). They used the handheld XRF to recover an important patrimonial article that was stolen in 2015 from the Reliquary of the Holy Cross, an El Sagrario parish in the Plaza de Armas of Santiago.

The Chilean PDI worked with Techcorp S.A., a SciAps representative, to purchase the XRF. The PDI says, “We are obtaining great results with the X-550 in forensic and environmental investigations in various applications such as mining, environmental control, PMI, drugs and explosives, archaeometry, forensic analysis, archaeology, among others.”

The X-550’s large area Silicon Drift Detector, powerful X-ray tube and low weight (< 3 lbs.) make it the perfect high performing XRF analyzer for forensic and environmental investigation applications used by the Chilean PDI. The X-550’s high power X-ray tube ensures fast and precise results, even while measuring light elements, and can be factory calibrated to cover a wide range of materials and sample types including alloys, precious metals, geological materials, plastics, and more.

The story has been widely publicized in Chile and is a great milestone for the PDI. According to the PDI Chile article “PDI recovered patrimonial reliquary,” the Investigative Brigade of Crimes Against Public Health and the Environment recovered the patrimonial object after a collector in the Las Condes commune compared the object with the items listed in Stolen Cultural Assets. He then reported it to the brigade.

Alejandro Cortés, from the Central Criminalistics Laboratory, analyzed the patrimonial with the X-550 which allowed him to collect information on "the material composition of the metal and iconography, which in this case is microceramic.” The patrimonial was made in the late 1800s, and the analysis determined that it is made of precious metals.

“I’m thrilled that our XRF was used in this investigation, and that the artifact was returned to the reliquary. I’ve been in the business of developing handheld XRF analyzers for over 20 years, and the application for these devices seems to be limitless,” says Don Sackett, CEO and Cofounder of SciAps.

SciAps, Inc., is a Boston-based instrumentation company specializing in handheld portable analytical instruments to measure any element, any place on the planet. Their industry-leading X-ray fluorescence (XRF) and laser-based (LIBS) analyzers are at work across every major industry, including oil/gas, metals and mining, aerospace, battery and strategic metals (lithium, rare-earth elements), scrap metal recycling, chemical and petrochemical, military, forensics and law enforcement. SciAps instruments are configured to measure elements in all types of materials, so applications are always expanding, recently including space research, pandemic anti-viral coatings, agriculture, and environmental contaminants.

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