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X-ray diffraction techniques are useful for characterizing crystalline materials, such as metals, intermetallics, ceramics, minerals, polymers, plastics, and other inorganic or organic compounds. This article discusses the theory of x-rays and how they are generated and detected. It also describes the crystalline nature of certain materials and how the geometry of a unit cell, and hence crystal lattice, affects the direction and intensity of diffracted x-ray beams. The article concludes with several application examples involving measurements on single and polycrystalline materials.

X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD) techniques are used to characterize samples in the form of loose powders or aggregates of finely divided material that readily diffract x-rays in specified patterns. This article provides an introduction to XRPD, beginning with a review of sensing devices, including pinhole/Laue cameras, Debye-Scherrer/Gandolfi cameras, Guinier cameras, glancing angle cameras, conventional diffractometers, thin film diffractometers, Guinier diffractometers, and micro diffractometers. The article then describes several quantitative measurement methods, such as lattice parameter, absorption diffraction, spiking, and direct comparison, explaining where each may be used. It also identifies potential sources of error in XRPD measurements.

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