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Powder X-ray Diffraction

A rapid, non-destructive analytical technique used to study polycrystalline materials.

PXRD is a rapid, non-destructive analytical technique used for the characterisation of crystalline materials, i.e. those which have a degree of order to their structure. When a crystalline sample is exposed to an X-ray beam of known wavelength, a unique diffraction pattern is generated. If more than one material (or phase) is present, then the diffraction patterns for each material is overlapped. Through identification of each pattern within the diffractogram, individual materials (or phases) can be identified and quantified.

Through interpretation of diffraction patterns, PXRD analysis allows:

  • Identification of crystalline phases
  • Measurement of crystallite/crystal domain size within discrete crystalline phases (always best to compare with microscopy techniques such as SEM)
  • Calculation of unit cell dimensions through pattern indexing
  • Phase quantification using simple profile fitting, LeBail, Pawley or Rietveld refinements

In addition to standard experiments, our PXRD facility has the capability to run samples under inert atmosphere (for air-sensitive samples) and under different gases and vapours to monitor the stability of materials under different conditions.

PXRD can provide a comprehensive picture of the solid state properties of any crystalline material. If you are interested in working with us, please get in touch to discuss any potential contract work, or for one-off measurements.

Our services

Powder X-ray Diffraction (PXRD) is a powerful rapid analytical technique for the study of single and multi-phase polycrystalline materials. PXRD can be used to characterise a wide range of solid-state materials, including alloys, cements, refractories, pharmaceuticals, nanomaterials and glasses, to name a few.

Within Newcastle University, we utilise PXRD for applications including:

  • Phase identification – comparing the measured diffraction peaks to a database of known patterns, allowing the identification of the phase(s) within a single sample
  • Phase quantification – providing calibration samples are available, the quantity and relative distribution of phases within polycrystalline samples can be accurately determined. Alternatively, combining PXRD with Scanning Electron Microscopy analysis can be used to determine relative phase distribution
  • Crystallite size analysis – Utilising the Scherrer equation, the average crystallite size within a sample can be determined. Through comparison with Electron Microscopy, the morphology and particle size can also be determined


SAgE Analytical has a wealth of experimental knowledge and capabilities in all of our techniques. Please browse our applications below which intend to focus on typical areas of interest and bespoke experimental needs.

Our staff

  • Dr Jamie Gould, Technical Scientific Officer
  • Dr Mike Probert, Senior Lecturer in Inorganic Chemistry, Head of Crystallography

Contact us

To request a quote, or ask us a question, you can complete our analytical services general enquiry form below.

If you’re a Newcastle University staff member or student, you can visit the internal Research and Analytical Services' intranet page.