Surfaces and interfaces determine many of the properties of materials, including electronic, magnetic and chemical behaviour. Experiments carried out at existing third generation synchrotron sources have focused on well defined samples in artificial environments. However, surface and interface diffraction techniques such as Grazing Incidence X-ray Diffraction (GIXD) are also ideal tools for determining the morphology of novel materials in realistic operating conditions. Providing both a source of high intensity X-rays and a wide range of sample environments will allow experiments that will lead to real technological development.
The penetration of synchrotron X-rays through matter and the provision of environmental chambers means that a wide range of systems and environments can be studied, including; gas-solid, liquid-solid and solid-solid interfaces.
Combining synchrotron techniques including X-ray diffraction in a grazing incidence geometry, measurement of diffuse scattering and grazing incidence small angle x-ray scattering (GISAXS) make it possible to accurately establish the structure of a material, which can be correlated with the function of the interface in realistic operating conditions.
Surface and interface diffraction is an ideal tool for examining the atomic structure of materials, and establishing links to their behaviour. The measurement of strain at interfaces for example can inform on whether a component will be able to function in realistic operating conditions. The use of interchangeable environmental stages (ultrahigh vacuum, electrochemical and high gas pressure) means that a great range of technically demanding systems can be investigated, including complex alloy semiconductor and oxide surfaces, quasi crystals, polymers and biological films.
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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