Image: X-Ray Power Diffraction System

X-Ray Power Diffraction System

X-ray diffraction is a common technique for the study of crystal structures and atomic spacing. X-ray diffraction is based on constructive interference of monochromatic X-rays and a crystalline sample. These X-rays are generated by a cathode ray tube, filtered to produce monochromatic radiation, collimated to concentrate, and directed towards the sample. The interaction of the incident rays with the sample produces constructive interference (and a diffracted ray) when conditions satisfy Bragg’s Law (nλ= 2d sinθ). This law relates the wavelength of electromagnetic radiation to the diffraction angle and the lattice spacing in a crystalline sample. These diffracted X-rays are then detected, processed and counted. By scanning the sample through a range of 2θangles, all possible diffraction directions of the lattice should be attained due to the random orientation of the powdered material. Conversion of the diffraction peaks to d-spacings allows identification of the material because each mineral has a set of unique d-spacings. Typically, this is achieved by comparison of d-spacings with standard reference patterns.

All diffraction methods are based on generation of X-rays in an X-ray tube. These X-rays are directed at the sample, and the diffracted rays are collected. A key component of all diffraction is the angle between the incident and diffracted rays.

X-ray powder diffraction is most widely used for the identification of unknown crystalline materials. Determination of unknown solids is critical to studies in geology, environmental science, material science, engineering and biology.
 

Photographer:
Martin Pueschel
Rights:
© Australian Museum

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