Benchmarking of advanced scattering probes for materials characterization.

It is now well established that local- or nano-scale structure (i.e. structure on a scale of ~0.1nm – 50nm) is crucial to the understanding of many technologically important functional materials. The characterization of such materials, with their diverse and often remarkable properties, seeks to provide a detailed understanding of how their properties derive from, or are influenced by, this local- or nano-scale structure. This information is essential for the continued development of new and better materials.

The Pair Distribution Function (PDF) technique has become widely used for obtaining information about a material’s structure on these length-scales. Strong claims are made based on PDF analyses, and major research efforts are undertaken as a result. The technique is however strictly limited since it uses spherically averaged scattering data. Often there is no alternative to PDF and the information it yields must then suffice, but for some samples the more definitive approach of Single Crystal Diffuse Scattering(SCDS) can be applied. Given the rapidly increasing use of PDF, it is imperative that the performance of PDF relative to SCDS is assessed.

In this project, by benchmarking PDF against SCDS using samples to which both can be applied, we aim to determine just how definitive the results from PDF are. This is crucial in evaluating conclusions drawn from PDF studies for a vast range of important materials, such as nanoparticle, functional oxides and high temperature superconductors.


  • Thomas Welberry, The Australian National University
  • Thomas Proffen, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
  • Peter Chupas, Argonne National Laboratories

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Updated:  20 September 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RSC/Page Contact:  Web Admin, RSC