Tables for
Volume H
Powder diffraction
Edited by C. J. Gilmore, J. A. Kaduk and H. Schenk

International Tables for Crystallography (2018). Vol. H, ch. 1.1, pp. 22-23

Section 1.1.7. Outlook

R. E. Dinnebiera* and S. J. L. Billingeb,c

aMax-Planck-Institute for Solid State Research, Heisenbergstrasse 1, D-70569 Stuttgart, Germany,bDepartment of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, Columbia University, 500 West 120th Street, Room 200 Mudd, MC 4701, New York, NY 10027, USA, and cCondensed Matter Physics and Materials Science Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory, PO Box 5000, Upton, NY 11973–5000, USA
Correspondence e-mail:

1.1.7. Outlook

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As is evident from the above, the information content in a powder diffraction pattern is enormous. This chapter gives only an overview of the types of information about materials that can be obtained from powder diffraction data, and the various approaches mentioned here are described in greater detail in the rest of this volume. The powder community is growing, as is the number of applications of powder diffraction in all the materials sciences as instrumentation and computer modelling become ever more powerful. Although intense modern X-ray and electron sources can measure data from tiny single crystals (of a size approaching that of a single powder grain), this does not diminish the usefulness and impact of powder diffraction, as powder diffraction is much more than just crystal structure solution. It probes real materials in real environments, yielding information about defects, texture, nanostructure, strain, phase composition, kinetics, phase transformations, size and shape distributions, and heterogeneity. In short, crystallography gives us the structure, but powder diffraction allows us to study the `materials science', of materials.


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