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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. X-ray fluorescence (XRF), another X-ray scattering technique, is commonly used to identify the elemental composition of materials. 


MCL maintains multiple X-Ray Diffractometers and X-ray fluorescance instruments.

Sample Requirements

Sample requirements vary widely with instrument and the analysis required. Please contact a technical staff member to discuss your needs.
The X-ray scattering lab also has micronizing and cryomilling capabilities. Please contact Nichole Wonderling ( to discuss further. 

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
Malvern Panalytical XPert Pro MPD Cu theta-theta

parallel beam

line Reflection PIXcel 1D powder/bulk/thin film; Anton Paar HTK16 Pt strip heater; 15 position sample changer

Malvern Panalytical Empryean Cu, Mo theta-theta para-focusing line Reflection PIXcel 3D powder/bulk; Anton Paar HPC900 high pressure/temperature stage

Malvern Panalytical X'Pert3 MRD Cu, Cr 4-circle

high resolution,
focusing lens

line/point Reflection

PIXcel 3D and

bulk/thin film; Anton Paar DHS900 domed heating stage

Malvern Panalytical Empyrean (3rd gen.) Cu, Mo, Co, Ag 3-axis cradle


line/point Reflection or
GaliPIX and

XENOCS Xeuss 2.0 SAXS/WAXS Cu none collimation

scatterless slits -

point focus

Transmission and GIXRD Dectris Pilatus 200K polymers, nanoparticles, nanocomposites, etc.; Linkam HFSX350 and CSS450 stages

Multiwire Laue white 3-axis; Bond Barrel collimation point Back-reflection Multiwire area single crystal


Take a tour of our X-ray Lab! Link to Tour


 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.  

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


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


    For Xeuss users - example description of data collection parameters: "The wide angle X-ray scattering experiments were performed by using an in-house SAXS/WAXS laboratory system (Xeuss 2.0 HR, Xenocs, France) equipped with a microfocus sealed tube (copper) with X-ray wavelength of 1.54 Å (50 kV, 0.6 mA) and a Pilatus3 R200K detector with a sample to detector distance of approximately 0.165 m. The scattering experiments were collected under vacuum at room temperature, and integrated over a tilted circle profile to convert 2D images into one-dimensional scattering patterns of scattering intensity I(q) (in arbitrary units) versus degrees 2theta."