X-ray Diffraction (XRD) Analysis

X-ray diffraction (XRD) is a powerful nondestructive technique for characterizing crystalline materials. It provides information on structures, phases and other structural parameters, such as average grain size, crystallinity, strain, and crystal defects. X-ray diffraction peaks are produced by constructive interference of a monochromatic beam of x-rays scattered at specific angles from each set of lattice planes in a sample. The peak intensities are determined by the distribution of atoms within the lattice. Consequently, the x-ray diffraction pattern is the fingerprint of periodic atomic arrangements in a given material.

Main Applications of XRD Analysis

  • Identification/quantification of crystalline phase
  • Measurement of average crystallite size, strain, or micro-strain effects in bulk and thin-film samples
  • Quantification of preferred orientation (texture) in thin films, multi-layer stacks, and manufactured parts
  • Determination of the ratio of crystalline to amorphous material in bulk materials and thin-film samples

Ideal Uses

  • Phase identification for a large variety of bulk and thin-film samples
  • Detecting crystalline minority phases (at concentrations greater than ~1%)
  • Determining crystallite size for polycrystalline films and materials
  • Determining percentage of material in crystalline form versus amorphous
  • Measuring sub-milligram loose powder or dried solution samples for phase identification
  • Analyzing films as thin as 50 angstroms for texture and phase behaviors
  • Determining strain and composition in epitaxial thin films
  • Determining surface offcut in single crystal materials
  • Measuring residual stress in bulk metals and ceramics

Technical specifications

Signal Detected: Diffracted x-rays

Elements Detected: All elements, assuming they are present in a crystalline matrix

Detection Limits: Quantitative multiphase analysis: ~5%

Minimum film thickness for phase identification: ~20 Angstroms

Depth Resolution: Adjustable sampling depth between ~20 Angstroms to ~30 microns, depending on material properties and x-ray incidence angles

Imaging/Mapping: None

Lateral Resolution/Probe Size: Point focus: 0.1mm to 0.5mm; Line focus 2mm to 12 mm


  • Nondestructive
  • Quantitative measurement of phase contents and texture orientation
  • Minimal or no sample preparation requirements
  • Ambient conditions for all analysis


  • Cannot identify amorphous materials
  • No depth profile information
  • Minimum spot size of ~50um

Industries served

  • Aerospace
  • Automotive
  • Medical Implants
  • Compound Semiconductor
  • Data Storage
  • Displays
  • Electronics
  • Industrial Products
  • Lighting
  • Pharmaceutical
  • Photonics
  • Polymer
  • Semiconductor
  • Solar Photovoltaics

Developed by: Pourya Zarini - 2014

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