Many scientists use X-ray diffraction daily. This method is known to be quite successful in terms of identifying crystalline material. In addition to this, x-ray diffraction can also provide scientists with information about unit cell dimensions.
Any material that is analyzed is always finely ground. This is because it enables the x-rays to pick up more information about the material’s properties. The material is also homogenized, and this goes further to ensure that the bulk composition is found.
In Layperson’s Terms
In layperson’s terms, the x-rays are used to detect what the materials contain. However, x-ray diffraction involves a lot more than simply pointing x-rays at the material and hoping that the information sent back is correct. Specific angles are used so that a better reading can be taken. Some materials might also be better at revealing their composition than others. However, x-ray diffraction is a useful tool that can help many different industries discover exactly what an unknown material contains.
Industries That Use X-Ray Diffraction
X-ray powder diffraction is typically used in a wide range of industries. In fact, XRD tends to be used so that scientists can detect the properties of any unknown crystalline materials. These materials are typically inorganic compounds or minerals.
When unknown solids must be identified, it’s usually because the solids are important to studies. These studies might be links to the following industries:
- Environmental science
- Material science
X-ray powder diffraction can prove to be very useful in the above industries. While there are other methods to use, XRD can be many a scientist’s go-to methods.
Alternative applications can include characterizing crystalline materials, determining unit cells’ dimensions, identifying a range of fine materials such as mixed-layer clay, and measuring sample purity.
Other Uses For X-Ray Powder Diffraction
Some industries have other uses for x-ray diffraction. These can include using specialty techniques to determine:
Crystal structures – This is typically undertaken by using Rietveld refinement.
Modal amounts of specific minerals – This is a form of quantitative analysis
Another use involves characterizing a thin film sample.
The Advantages and Disadvantages of X-Ray Powder Diffraction
Now we’re going to take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of x-ray powder diffraction:
– It’s a widely available method
– Interpreting the data is not complicated
– The results can provide a clear answer
– The technique is a powerful one to use
– It often takes less than 20 minutes to show the results
– You can only use 1/10th of a gram of the material
– The material needs to be ground down into a powder
– There’s always a chance that peak overlay occurs. This can make the reflections worse
– To get better identification, you’ll need to use a single-phase, homogeneous material
– You will need access to a reference file of many inorganic compounds
– Indexing patterns of some crystal systems can be complicated
– There is a detection limit with is ~ 2 percent of the sample
As you can see, there are quite a few disadvantages to using x-ray powder diffraction. However, if you don’t have complicated minerals to work with, this method can prove very useful.
X-ray powder diffraction can prove to be very useful in the above industries. While there are other methods to use, XRD can be many a scientist’s go-to method. With a little work and with a little practice, you could find that x-ray powder diffraction is your preferred method of detection.