X-Ray Diffraction

X-Ray Diffraction Sample Request Form

x-ray diffractor

The Bruker AXS X-Ray Diffractometer

x-ray diffractor

Dr. Hinthorne Explains How the X-Ray Diffractometer Works

"The X-Ray Diffractometer works by generating x-rays in this x-ray tube on the left side and collimating them into a parallel beam to impinge on the sample in the center of the chamber.  We have a camera with a laser attachment for vertical adjustment and horizontal positioning of our sample in the center of the x-ray beam.  The diffracted x-rays, that is, the ones that are reflected at particular angles off the crystalline substance we use for a sample, are detected by the moving arm and detector on the right-hand side of the unit and displayed on the computer screen as what's called an x-ray diffraction pattern.  Data processing on the diffraction pattern will extract the peaks from the background and compare them to a database of peaks for identification of the sample material."   -Dr. Hinthorne      

x-ray diffractor

Student Researcher Thomas Mion Loads an Unknown Sample

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The computer screen on the left depicts the diffraction pattern from the sample that was loaded by Thomas.  The height of the peak represents the relative intensity of the diffracted x-rays.  The position of the peak on the horizontal scale represents the angle of the x-ray diffracting from the sample material.  The combination of these intensities and angles are what make up a diffraction pattern, unique to a given material.

The diffraction pattern is processed through EVA, a data evaluation program.  As shown on the right-hand computer screen, the program searches through a database of all known minerals and inorganic compounds to find the matching diffraction pattern and thus identify the sample material.  X-ray diffraction may also be used to characterize the atomic-scale structure of an already identified crystalline substance.