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. 2.5, p. 125

Section X-ray source

B. B. Hea*

aBruker AXS Inc., 5465 E. Cheryl Parkway, Madison, WI 53711, USA
Correspondence e-mail: X-ray source

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A variety of X-ray sources, from sealed X-ray tubes and rotating-anode generators to synchrotron radiation, can be used for 2D powder diffraction. The history and principles of X-ray generation can be found in many references (Klug & Alexander, 1974[link]; Cullity, 1978[link]). The X-ray beam intensity depends on the X-ray optics, the focal-spot brightness and the focal-spot profile. The focal-spot brightness is determined by the maximum target loading per unit area of the focal spot, also referred to as the specific loading. A microfocus sealed tube (Bloomer & Arndt, 1999[link]; Wiesmann et al., 2007[link]), which has a very small focal spot size (10–50 µm), can deliver a brilliance as much as one to two orders of magnitude higher than a conventional fine-focus sealed tube. The tube, which is also called a `microsource', is typically air cooled because the X-ray generator power is less than 50 W. The X-ray optics for a microsource, either a multilayer mirror or a polycapillary, are typically mounted very close to the focal spot so as to maximize the gain on the capture angle. A microsource is highly suitable for 2D-XRD because of its spot focus and high brilliance.

If the X-rays used for diffraction have a wavelength slightly shorter than the K absorption edge of the sample material, a significant amount of fluorescent radiation is produced, which spreads over the diffraction pattern as a high background. In a conventional diffractometer with a point detector, the fluorescent background can be mostly removed by either a receiving monochromator mounted in front of the detector or by using a point detector with sufficient energy resolution. However, it is impossible to add a monochromator in front of a 2D detector and most area detectors have insufficient energy resolution. In order to avoid intense fluorescence, the wavelength of the X-ray-tube Kα line should either be longer than the K absorption edge of the sample or far away from the K absorption edge. For example, Cu Kα should not be used for samples containing significant amounts of the elements iron or cobalt. Since the Kα line of an element cannot excite fluorescence of the same element, it is safe to use an anode of the same metallic element as the sample if the X-ray tube is available, for instance Co Kα for Co samples. In general, intense fluorescence is produced when the atomic number of the anode material is 2, 3, or 4 larger than that of an element in the sample. When the sample contains Co, Fe or Mn (or Ni or Cu), the use of Cu Kα radiation should be avoided; similarly, one should avoid using Co Kα radiation if the sample contains Mn, Cr or V, and avoid using Cr Kα radiation if the sample contains Ti, Sc or Ca. The effect is reduced when the atomic-number difference increases.


Bloomer, A. C. & Arndt, U. W. (1999). Experiences and expectations of a novel X-ray microsource with focusing mirror. I. Acta Cryst. D55, 1672–1680.Google Scholar
Cullity, B. D. (1978). Elements of X-ray Diffraction, 2nd ed. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
Klug, H. P. & Alexander, L. E. (1974). X-ray Diffraction Procedures for Polycrystalline and Amorphous Materials. New York: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
Wiesmann, J., Graf, J., Hoffmann, C. & Michaelsen, C. (2007). New possibilities for x-ray diffractometry. Physics meets Industry, edited by J. Gegner & F. Haider. Renningen: ExpertVerlag. ISBN 978-3-8169-2740-2.Google Scholar

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