High Energy Powder X-ray Diffraction for Advanced Materials Characterisation

Lead Research Organisation: University of St Andrews
Department Name: Chemistry


Advanced functional materials find applications in our everyday lives, from batteries found in mobile phones, to fuel cells, materials for CO2 capture and computer hard disk drives. One of our roles as chemists is to understand how atoms are arranged in these advanced functional materials. Once this understanding is gained, we can link it to the performance of these materials which will ultimately find their way into our everyday lives. One key technique used to study these materials is called powder X-ray diffraction. Powder X-ray diffraction is a technique used for several reasons: to determine the purity of samples we make in the laboratory; to get an extremely detailed understanding of how atoms are arranged in these materials and to understand how atomic arrangements change when subjected to different conditions, such as elevated temperatures and flowing gases.

This proposal will enable the purchase of a new powder X-ray diffractometer, with a state-of-the-art reaction chamber and a separate sample changer. This will enable variable temperature experiments (up to 1800 K) to be carried out under a range of different gas atmospheres. This facility will be unique in Scotland and in the UK outside the national synchrotron facility. The use of high energy X-rays will enable the study of a wider range of samples than currently possible in St Andrews (by enabling the study of absorbing samples and samples that fluoresce) and the purchase of a capillary sample changer will enable a higher throughput of samples, markedly improving our research efficiency and productivity.
Powder X-ray diffraction is widely used in physical sciences, supporting over 100 users directly in the School of Chemistry at the University of St Andrews. This facility will support the research of three early career researchers and a large number of PhD students (through the CRITICAT and EaSICAT doctoral training programmes) and post-doctoral researchers, in addition to over a third of the established academics within the School.

The vision is that this piece of equipment will be an important addition in our goal to develop sustainable world-class facilities that enable science which is not possible in the vast majority of laboratories around the globe. It will provide a unique core science facility that can be accessed by all researchers to enhance the quality of science possible. The work that will be carried out will focus on a variety of materials of fundamental scientific interest as well as applications in batteries, fuel cells, computer hard drives and gas separation/storage.


10 25 50