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, pp. 38-39

Section Fixed-target X-ray sources

A. Kerna*

aBruker AXS, Östliche Rheinbrückenstrasse 49, Karlsruhe 76187, Germany
Correspondence e-mail: Fixed-target X-ray sources

| top | pdf |

Fixed-target X-ray sources are used in more than 90% of all X-ray diffractometer installations (Fig. 2.1.13[link]a). Electrons are generated by heating a filament (cathode) and accelerated towards the metal target (anode) by means of a high potential, typically of the order of 30–60 kV.

In conventional X-ray sources the electrons are focused by an electrostatic lens onto the anode to form the focal spot. Typical power ratings range from several hundred watts up to about 3 kW. The anode is water-cooled from the back. Focal spots are of rectangular shape, and can be viewed at the two long and the two short faces, giving two line and two point foci, respectively. This allows up to four instruments to be operated with a single X-ray source. However, the vast majority of all today's X-ray diffractometers are equipped with an individual X-ray source (and sometimes two, see Section[link]). This significantly eases alignment as there is no need to align the instrument with respect to the X-ray source, and allows instrument configurations with moving X-ray sources. Modern X-ray-source stage designs allow switching between point and line focus by rotating the X-ray source 90° without alignment and even without the need to disconnect the powder cables and water supply.

Conventional X-ray sources have long and wide electron beams so that a large area of the target is heated (Fig. 2.1.13[link]a). The heat generated in the middle of this area can mainly flow in just one direction: towards the water-cooled back of the anode. Heat flow parallel to the surface is minimal, thus limiting the cooling efficiency. It is for this reason that conventional X-ray sources achieve the lowest brilliance of any laboratory X-ray source. Conventional X-ray sources are usually coupled with relatively simple optics and are cheap compared to moving-target systems. In addition they are maintenance-free, apart from periodic changes of the X-ray source owing to ageing.

`Micro-focus' X-ray sources represent another category of X-ray source and are characterized by very small focal spot sizes ranging from a few µm up to about 50 µm. In this type of X-ray source, the improved focusing of the electron beam is achieved by very fine electrostatic or magnetic lenses. Power requirements are significantly less than conventional X-ray sources, ranging from a few watts up to some hundred watts, depending on focal spot size; water cooling is frequently not required. Again, there is no maintenance required beyond periodic tube changes.

As the focal spot area is very small, heat can also flow sideways, improving the thermal cooling efficiency and thus allowing this type of X-ray-source tube to achieve significantly higher brilliance than conventional X-ray sources. To benefit from this increased performance, relatively large optics of the reflective type (see Section[link]) are required, making micro-focus X-ray source systems significantly more expensive than conventional systems.

The lifetime of a fixed-target X-ray source depends on many factors, of which operation of the source within specifications (such as specific loading and cooling) is particularly important. The `useful' lifetime may be significantly shorter, even though the X-ray source still operates. Deposition of tungsten from the filament on the anode and on the inner beryllium window surfaces leads to spectral contamination and substantial loss of intensity with time. Increasing deterioration of the filament may change its position relative to the electrostatic lens used for focusing and result in beam inhomogeneity and additional intensity losses. Further intensity losses and beam inhomogeneity may arise from pitting of the anode surface as a result of the intense electron flux on the anode surface.

to end of page
to top of page