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. 128

Section Detection limit and dynamic range

B. B. Hea*

aBruker AXS Inc., 5465 E. Cheryl Parkway, Madison, WI 53711, USA
Correspondence e-mail: Detection limit and dynamic range

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The detection limit is the lowest number of counts that can be distinguished from the absence of true counts within a specified confidence level. The detection limit is estimated from the mean of the noise, the standard deviation of the noise and some confidence factor. In order to have the incoming X-ray photons counted with a reasonable statistical certainty, the counts produced by the X-ray photons should be above the detector background-noise counts.

The dynamic range is defined as the range extending from the detection limit to the maximum count measured in the same length of counting time. The linear dynamic range is the dynamic range within which the maximum counts are collected within the specified linearity. For X-ray detectors, the dynamic range most often refers to linear dynamic range, since only a diffraction pattern collected within the linear dynamic range can be correctly interpreted and analysed. When the detection limit in count rate approaches the noise rate at extended counting time, the dynamic range can be approximated by the ratio of the maximum count rate to the noise rate.

Dynamic range is very often confused with the maximum count rate, but must be distinguished. With a low noise rate, a detector can achieve a dynamic range much higher than its count rate. For example, if a detector has a maximum linear count rate of 105 s−1 with a noise rate of 10−3 s−1, the dynamic range can approach 108 for an extended measurement time. The dynamic range for a 2D detector has the same definition as for a point detector, except that with a 2D detector the whole dynamic range extending from the detection limit to the maximum count can be observed from different pixels simultaneously. In order to record the entire two-dimensional diffraction pattern, it is necessary for the dynamic range of the detector to be at least the dynamic range of the diffraction pattern, which is typically in the range 102 to 106 for most applications. If the range of reflection intensities exceeds the dynamic range of the detector, then the detector will either saturate or have low-intensity patterns truncated. Therefore, it is desirable that the detector has as large a dynamic range as possible.

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