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X-Ray Diffraction Technique – A Boon to Research

The XRD is a widely available, non destructive, non contact technique for in situ studies useful at atomic or molecular level. The X-ray incident on the periodically arranged atoms are scattered forming high and low intensities pattern due to interference of the scattered waves. We can qualitatively compare this phenomena to that of the colours observed on soap bubble when viewed from different directions. Ever since its discovery and the exploration of various facets like single crystal crystallography, powder diffraction, fibre diffraction, grazing angle incidence and small angle X-ray scattering it is a boon to the scientific community of all disciplines. Biologists currently use the technique for drug analysis for developing and testing, to study discotic liquid crystals and DNA structures. XRD analysis comes in handy for geologists, forensic department and in microelectronics industry. Another interesting application is that it is being used in glass industry. Usually glasses are amorphous and so they do no diffract the X-rays, but the same is employed to check the presence of crystallinity which is defect on a glass. For solid state material research, powder diffraction is commonly used. The X-ray diffraction pattern of a compound shown below carries a wealth of information.

The expertise of any researcher is tested at two levels viz. sampling techniques to obtain a better pattern and the interpretation or inferring the maximum information from the pattern obtained. The following can be inferred:

Phase composition, crystallographic orientation, unit cell parameters, and stress of powder samples., lattice mismatch, dislocation density, textural parameters, roughness and quality of thin film samples

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