X-ray diffraction (XRD) is the most extensively used method for identifying and characterizing various aspects of metals related to the arrangements and spacings of their atoms for bulk structural analysis. XRD techniques are also applicable to ceramics, geologic materials, and most inorganic chemical compounds. This article describes the operating principles and types of XRD analyses, along with information about the threshold sensitivity and precision, limitations, sample requirements, and capabilities of related techniques. The necessary instrumentation for XRD analyses include the Debye-Scherrer camera and the X-ray diffractometer. The article also describes the uses of XRD analyses, such as the identification of phases or compounds in metals and ceramics; detection of order and disorder transformation; determination of lattice parameters and changes in lattice parameters due to alloying and temperature effects; measurement of residual stresses; characterization of crystallite size and perfection; characterization of preferred orientations; and determination of single crystal orientations.
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