When an incident beam of X-rays interacts with a target material scattering of those X-rays occurs within the target material. An X-ray diffraction pattern is the variation in intensity observed when the scattered X-rays undergo constructive and destructive interference as a result of their interaction within the material. The angular directions of possible diffraction peaks depend on the size and shape of the unit cell of the material. The intensities of the diffracted waves depend on the kind and arrangement of atoms in the crystal structure. A primary use of the technique is the identification and characterization of compounds based on their diffraction pattern.
The high intensity of synchrotron X-rays make it possible to collect diffraction patterns much more quickly in comparison to a lab source and to detect phases and structure of lower concentration within the sample and in some cases allows for more dynamic experiments of structural change within a material.
Combining the high brightness with the small spot size available makes it possible to examine samples with very high spatial resolution.
microXRD and nanoXRD are X-ray diffraction with a smaller spot size, either micro or nano-sized. They too relies on the dual wave/particle nature of an X-ray to deteremine information about the structure of crystalline samples. Using X-ray optics, the beam size is reduced in order to investigate smaller features on the sample.
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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