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. 2.1, p. 28

Section Recent years

A. Kerna*

aBruker AXS, Östliche Rheinbrückenstrasse 49, Karlsruhe 76187, Germany
Correspondence e-mail: Recent years

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In the 1990s, more and more laboratories started to deal with a full range of materials and related applications - from powders through polycrystalline thin films to epitaxial thin films. Dedicated and inflexible instruments were no longer economic for serving the increasing range of applications and also their increasing data-quality requirements.

The growing need for multipurpose instrumentation led to a new generation of X-ray diffractometers in the late 1990s, from all of the major manufacturers, based on a platform concept covering all relevant beam-path components including X-ray sources, optics, specimen stages and detectors. This concept, described in Section 2.1.4[link], allowed for a faster development of more and more differentiated instrumentation to optimally meet the requirements of all possible applications and sample types. Particularly successful were design improvements that allow the user to transform an instrument on-site by changing beam-path components, often without any need for alignment or even tools, to cover a larger range of applications and sample types using a single instrument.

A major contribution to the platform concept came from the continued development of beam conditioners based on multilayers, resulting in a wealth of X-ray beam optics for different applications. Advanced sputtering techniques allow the fabrication of multilayer optics with virtually arbitrary beam divergence, which can be used to generate focusing, parallel and divergent beams for both point- and line-focus applications.

The introduction of a series of new detector technologies in the early 2000s represented another technological quantum leap, which completely changed the X-ray detection landscape for laboratory diffraction. Within only a few years, detectors based on silicon micro-strip, silicon pixel and micro-gap technologies reached a market share of more than 90% in newly sold systems. Proportional and scintillation point detectors will probably become obsolete in only a few years from now, but can still be found, usually in lower-budget systems.

Today's instruments, with their different possible configurations of beam-path components, are now capable of performing a wider range of X-ray scattering applications than ever (see Section[link]). Not surprisingly, the platform concept has become so successful that all modern X-ray diffractometers are now, at least to some extent, equipped with interchange capabilities for beam-path components. However, the fundamental principles remain the same and date back to the first film cameras and diffractometers, no matter how advanced today's instrumentation is.

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