X-Ray Scattering

X-ray Scattering

The term X-ray Scattering encompasses a number of techniques used to characterize materials.  X-ray diffraction (XRD) has traditionally been applied  to well-ordered crystalline materials to determine crystal structures, identify phase composition, measure stress, preferred orientation and crystallinity, but the field also encompasses the characterization of non- or semi-crystalline materials via small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). Scattering experiments at very small angles can study electron density structures in materials on size scales greater than the electron density contrast due to atomic ordering observed in diffraction from crystalline materials and can provide information on size, shape, and distribution of electron density contrasted domains in polymers, dilute suspensions, gels, emulsions and more. Diffuse scattering to wide angles (WAXS) can study atomic structure in non-crystalline materials.


MCL maintains multiple X-Ray Diffractometers.

  • PANalytical XPert Pro MPD theta-theta Diffractometer (N-008 MSC Bldg)
  • PANalytical Empryean X-Ray Diffractometer (N-008 MSC Bldg)
  • PANalytical X'Pert3 MRD 4-circle / High Resolution (N-008 MSC Bldg)
  • Rigaku DMAX-Rapid II Microdiffractometer (N-008 MSC Bldg)
  • XENOCS Xeuss 2.0 (N-008 MSC)
  • Multiwire Backreflection Laue (N-008 MSC Bldg)
Sample Requirements

Sample requirements vary widely with instrument and the analysis required. Please contact a technical staff member to discuss your needs.

User Policies, Procedures, and Training

All users of analytical x-ray systems at Penn State are required to complete x-ray safety training through Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) prior to receiving instrument training. For more information on these requirements, see the EHS web site. Equipment training is provided at the hourly rate for equipment and analyst. Group training is available and can reduce cost per student significantly. Visit this webpage for training details or contact a technical staff member for more information.

Instrument Summary

Instrument Source Goniometer Optics Focus Mode Detector Applications
PANalytical XPert Pro MPD Cu theta-theta para-focusing/parallel beam line Reflection PIXcel 1D powder/bulk/thin film
PANalytical Empryean Cu, Mo theta-theta para-focusing line Reflection PIXcel 3D powder/bulk
PANalytical X'Pert3 MRD Cu 4-circle high resolution/para-focusing/focusing lens line/point Reflection (1) PIXcel 3D and (1) Mini-prop Xe bulk/thin film
Rigaku DMAX-Rapid II Cu, Mo omega/phi rotation microfocus collimation point - microfocus Reflection or Transmission Curved image plate powder/bulk/thin film/single crystal
XENOCS Xeuss 2.0 SAXS/WAXS Cu none collimation scatterless slits - point Transmission and GIXRD Dectris Pilatus 200K polymers, nanoparticles, nanocomposites, etc.
Multiwire Laue white 3-axis collimation point Back-reflection Multiwire area single crystal

Recent Additions

 Xeuss 2.0 HR SAXS/WAXS

The Xenocs Xeuss 2.0 offers a number of applications including: grazing incidence (GISAXS/GIWAXS), 2D SAXS/WAXS measurements and simultaneous SAXS/WAXS measurements during dynamic studies, using shear or temperature cells.  Research areas of particular interest for this tool include structural characterization of of organo-photovoltaic thin films, polymer crystallization, block copolymer composites, ionic and conjugated polymers, rheo-SAXS, bio-synthetic hybrid materials and ultimately biological samples in solutions.  


  • 2 Detectors
  • Simultaneous SAXS/WAXS
  • Adjustable Sample to Detector Distance
  • Non-ambient
  • Mapping Lamella Orientation
  • Automated Absolute Intensities

Solid state, “radiation hard” detector allows measurement of the direct beam through a semi-transparent foil for absoute intensity corrections.