X-Ray Diffraction

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An XRD at the University of Birmingham
X-Ray Diffraction

X-Ray Diffraction (XRD ) is the most common and powerful technique for the characterisation of crystalline solids.

A diffraction pattern contains a wealth of information about the unit cell of a solid.

What is a unit cell?

A unit cell is the simplest repeating unit in a crystal.

Depending on the unit cell, a cubic crystalline solid can be characterised as primitive, body-centred, face-centred or base-centred cubic.


Unit cell types
Types of cubic unit cells


How does it work?

When a crystalline object interferes with monochromatic (i.e. single wavelength) X-ray beams, these are scattered. The scattering angle and intensity of the scattered rays can be measured, and then used to characterise the solid.

Types of XRD
  • Single crystal XRD is used mainly for determination of crystal
    structures of molecular and non-molecular materials.
  • Powder XRD can be used for many purposes including: phase
    identification, determination of sample purity, quantitative analysis,
    estimation of particle size.

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