In general, spectroscopy is the science of studying the interaction between matter and radiated energy while spectrometry is the method used to acquire a quantitative measurement of the spectrum. Spectroscopy (scopy means observation) does not generate any results. It is the theoretical approach of science. Spectrometry (metry means measurement) is the practical application where the results are generated. It is the measurement of the intensity of the radiation using an electronic device. Often these terms are used interchangeably, but every spectrometry is not spectroscopy (e.g. mass spectrometry vs.
X-ray spectroscopy is a general term for several spectroscopic techniques for characterization of materials by using x-ray excitation. When an electron from the inner shell of an atom is excited by the energy of a photon, it moves to a higher energy level. Since the process leaves a vacancy in the electron energy level from which the electron came, the outer electrons of the atom cascade down to fill the lower atomic levels, and one or more characteristic X-rays are usually emitted. As a result, sharp intensity peaks appear in the spectrum at wavelengths that are a characteristic of the material from which the anode target is made. The frequencies of the characteristic X-rays can be predicted from the Bohr model. Analysis of the X-ray emission spectrum produces qualitative results about the elemental composition of the specimen.