Powder diffraction is used to examine small, weakly interacting crystals in random orientations. Many materials exist as powders or in polycrystalline form, including ceramics, metals, superconductor oxides, pharmaceuticals, geochemicals, zeolites and related porous solids, all of which can be studied with powder diffraction. The technique can be used to study polycrystalline materials such as metals and alloys.
High quality, high resolution powder patterns will be recorded with short scan times via multi-element analyser stages while fast, wide-angle position sensitive detectors will allow the rapid collection of powder patterns in time-resolved studies in non-ambient conditions.
The high resolution opens the possibility of novel studies of phase transitions in large macromolecules as a function of temperature, leading to improved methods for the preparation of large single crystals. The high intensity X-rays can probe more deeply into the sample than laboratory techniques, and the use of resonant diffraction allows complex structures with low "normal" electron contrasts to be studied.
New research studies will include the refinement of the structures and P-T mapping of organic molecular pharmaceutical solids; determination of the effect of competing effects in highly correlated oxides and chalcogenides; the study of structural changes in polymer lithium ion conductors; the structure of porous materials and of nanoscale systems formed by inclusion within the pores and the time dependence of the intersite cation ordering in mineral phases.
Technological areas studied with this technique include catalysis, energy storage, radioactive waste treatment, magnetic recording, structural biology and pharmaceuticals.
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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