Material Technology

Total scattering techniques for investigations of disorder in the solid state

"Total scattering" techniques , which reveal information about atomic and short-range atomic correlations by considering the diffuse scattering in addition to the Bragg scattering, have proven to be very powerful for investigations of the structur of disordered materials. These techniques are about to reach maturity but are hardly exploited by Norwegian research communities.

Sørby, Magnus Helgerud

Senior Scientist


The atomic structure is arguably the most fundamental property of a material as it dictates all other bulk properties. Our knowledge about the structure of matter in the solid, crystalline state is almost exclusively based on diffraction experiments with X-rays, synchrotron radiation, neutrons and electrons. The sharp features in the diffraction patterns from such materials, the so-called Bragg scattering, has been used for almost a century to elucidate the structure of materials ranging from simple metals to highly complicated proteins.

The technique has its limitation, however, since the Bragg scattering only contain information about the time- and space average long-range structure, represented by an infinitely repeating build block called the unit cell. This idealized pictures is often inadequate since real material usually contain a significant degree of structural disorder which may be determining for their properties.

This project aims to establish national competence on investigations of structural disorder using total scattering techniques with neutrons and synchrotron radiation. Important objectives are to establish good routines for total scattering measurements at the national JEEP II reactor at Institute for Energy Technology (IFE) and at the Swiss Norwegian Beam Lines (SNBL) at ESRF, France.

The project is sponsored by the Research Council of Norway, and ends in 2015.