CSEC-Based Facility for Advanced X-ray Characterisation of Materials

Lead Research Organisation: University of Edinburgh
Department Name: College of Science and Engineering


X-ray diffraction and analysis supports a broad range of science and engineering, from physical to biological sciences and materials discovery. It is vital for the characterisation of new materials to determine composition, phase identity and structure before carrying out time consuming and, in some cases, expensive property measurements and/or spectroscopic measurements at extreme pressures and temperatures. It also provides a means of monitoring phase evolution, vital for understanding the stability of important materials and probing structural orders, key to critical properties, as a function of external parameters such as pressure, electric/magnetic fields, and temperature.

The purpose of this proposal is to provide a significant upgrade to the X-ray diffraction facilities based at CSEC, UoE. The proposed facility will allow diffraction measurements to be carried out under extreme conditions in CSEC, characterise materials before thermodynamic measurements using existing equipment, and also support measurements at large scale neutron and light source facilities. Use of the facility will be offered to academic and industrial users through a request system to be managed online and monitored by the management group.

Three pieces of equipment are requested as part of this proposal:

1) An XRF device for validating or determining sample composition. This will be used to place constraints on diffraction measurements, allow analysis of bulk samples and will require little sample preparation. This final aspect will allow us to offer the use of this piece of equipment to a broad user community outside CSE.

2) An X-ray powder diffractometer that can host modular sample environments for publishable data to be obtained at pressure, temperature, under conditions of flow or humidity. This facility will allow metastable materials to be investigated and will also be used to support large scale facility measurements.

3) A micro-focussed, real-time, Laue diffractometer for single crystals will be used to validate crystalline quality of materials and also to align small single crystals. The micro focussing capability will allow large arrays of small single crystals to be aligned before large scale facility experiments. This facility will be used to support users of large scale facilities allowing alignment to be completed in a laboratory setting and not using scarce and expensive large scale facility time. It will be used by industrial and engineering collaborators for characterising domains and crystal grains of relevant materials.

The combination of these three pieces of equipment in one single laboratory at CSEC will provide a unique facility in the UK. The ability to test samples using all three techniques during one laboratory visit will produce considerable time savings, making this facility especially attractive to external users, both from industry and other academic institutions.


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