Tables for
Volume C
Mathematical, physical and chemical tables
Edited by E. Prince

International Tables for Crystallography (2006). Vol. C, ch. 5.5, pp. 541-551

Chapter 5.5. Neutron methods

B. T. M. Willisa

aChemical Crystallography Laboratory, University of Oxford, 9 Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PD, England

Some comments are given on the derivation of lattice parameters from neutron powder patterns.

In general, one would not expect to measure lattice parameters as precisely with neutrons as with X-rays. The main reason for this is the need to relax the resolution of the diffraction peaks observed in neutron diffraction, in order to obtain reasonable count rates. However, the high-resolution powder diffractometer D2B (on the reactor source at the Institut Laue–Langevin) and the high-resolution powder instrument HRPD (on the pulsed source at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory) have resolutions approaching that of X-ray diffractometers. Using Rietveld refinement, lattice parameters can be determined to a precision of a few parts in 104 (Fischer et al., 1986[link]).

Neutron methods are better suited to the indexing of the powder pattern. This requires the accurate measurement of the d spacings of the lowest-index lines in the pattern. Whereas d spacings measured with X-rays at low values of (sin θ)/λ tend to have systematic errors, this is not such a serious problem with neutrons. It is relatively straightforward, using the time-of-flight pulsed-neutron method, to measure the d spacings of the first 20–30 lines of a powder pattern to better than 0.1%.


Fischer, P., Zolliker, P., Meier, B. H., Ernst, R. R., Hewat, A. W., Jorgensen, J. D. & Rotella, F. J. (1986). Structure and dynamics of terephthalic acid from 2 to 300 K. J. Solid State Chem. 61, 109–125.

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