Tech Updates

What Industries Use X-Ray Diffraction?

Many scientists use X-ray diffraction daily. This method is known to be quite successful in 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 gather more information about the material’s properties. The material is also homogenized, which further ensures that the bulk composition is found.

X-Ray Diffraction

In Layperson’s Terms

In layperson’s terms, the X-rays detect what the materials contain. However, x-ray diffraction involves 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 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. 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 they are important studies. These studies might be linked to the following industries:

  • Biology
  • Engineering
  • Environmental science
  • Geology
  • Material science

X-ray powder diffraction can prove to be very useful in the above industries. While there are other methods, XRD can be many of a scientist’s go-to methods.

Alternative applscientists include characterizing crystalline materials, determining unit cells’ dimensions, identifying various 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

– InterpretiIt’she 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 oThere’sThis can make the reflections worse

– To get better identification, you’ll need to use a single-phase, homogeneyou’llterial

– 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 of ~ 2 percent of the sample

As you can see, there are several disadvantages to using X-ray powder diffraction. However, the method can prove very useful if you don’t have complicated minerals.

X-ray powder diffraction can prove to be very useful in the above industries. While there are other methods, XRD can be a scientist’s go-to. You could find that X-ray powder diffraction is your preferred detection method with a little practice.

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