Our new PDF x-ray diffractometer

29 March 2013

The new PDF x-ray diffractometer
The new PDF x-ray diffractometer
This arrived very recently, and is now running experiments alongside the tests we want to do.

It has a silver x-ray source, giving a wavelength of 0.05 nm. At this short wavelength, we can perform measurements to relatively high values of a quantity called the scattering vector, with symbol Q. The idea is that we can transform the data into a histogram of interatomic distances in the sample being measured, showing all the bonds between atoms and the local atomic environment (this is called the “Pair distribution function”, aka PDF). The higher the value of Q in the measurement, the better the resolution in this histogram, and hence the value of a silver source and an instrument optimised for high-Q measurements.

The instrument was made by PANalytical, and some details are available from the company web site.

We plan to use this instrument for research into medical materials (bone and dental materials, both natural and synthetic, as well as pharmaceutical materials), energy materials (batteries, fuel cells, thermoelectric materials), disordered materials and glasses, and functional ceramics, with an emphasis on understanding how atomic structure determines the properties of materials.