X-ray diffraction

Cathode Enables Quasi-Two-Stage Intercalation for Multivalent Zinc Batteries

May 31, 2020

Because they are highly efficient, low maintenance, and light, lithium-ion batteries have grown in popularity. Their use has improved the functionality of many electronics, such as allowing our cell phones to be more portable and our electric cars to travel longer distances. However, some precious metal components of these batteries are in short supply, prompting researchers to develop “beyond lithium-ion” alternatives that use elements more abundant on Earth, yet have the qualities that make lithium-ion batteries so useful. Attention has turned to using common divalent metals, such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc, at the anode for a new type of battery.

Tuning the Properties in Perovskite Materials for Photovoltaics

October 31, 2017

The search continues for solar energy materials that are efficient and inexpensive and simple to make. Films made of metal halide perovskite crystals are good candidates because of their impressive solar cell efficiencies and their low cost to produce. An advantage of metal halide perovskite materials is the ability to tune their band gap, which determines the wavelengths of light that can be collected by the solar cell.

X-ray Study Reveals How Silver-to-Silicon Contacts Form for Solar Cells

April 30, 2016

Most solar panels use technology that employs a silver-silicon interface. Because silver is expensive and the lead used in the creation of this interface is toxic, researchers are interested searching for other materials that could work instead of these components. A team of scientists are working to understand the process involved in the silver-silicon contact formation so that alternatives that perform the same function can be found.

Ultra-high Charge Carrier Mobility in an Organic Semiconductor by Vertical Chain Alignment

March 31, 2016

Current technologies of light emitting diodes (LEDs), photovoltaic systems (PVs), and other optical electronic devices typically use inorganic silicon-based semiconductors. However,  organic polymers could provide thinner, lighter and cheaper opto-electronic devices (like OLEDs and OPVs).

Effect of an Ultrathin Coating on Stabilizing Li-ion Battery Cathodes

January 31, 2016

The widespread adoption of renewable energy in many applications, such as electric cars, is dependant on the development of better batteries. A lithium ion battery can be made to have a higher capacity, better thermally stability, and lower cost by changing the cobalt component of the battery cathode (usually LiCoO2) to a mixture of nickel, manganese, and cobalt. While providing great benefits, this material, known as NMC, also has a downside: increased reactivity at the cathode resulting in a shorter battery lifetime. To counteract this reactivity, scientists at the National Renewable Energy Lab in Colorado developed a coating for the NMC cathode.

Multiscale Speciation of U and Pu at Chernobyl, Hanford, Los Alamos, McGuire AFB, Mayak, and Rocky Flats

June 26, 2015

When a geographical area is contaminated with radioactive elements, time and heat can cause them to combine with other atoms to form a variety of compounds. Knowing what compounds form and when they form is important for containing and cleaning contaminated sites. Computer models can make predictions but are limited to the currently known reactions and compounds that can be described in the laboratory.  A collaboration of scientists has taken samples from the fields of six different contaminated sites to discover which chemical species are formed from uranium and plutonium. The sites studied released these elements under different circumstances and into different environments.

Experimental Station 10-2b

Beam line 10-2 is a wiggler end-station that splits time between the front hutch (BL10-2a), which is instrumented for x-ray absorption spectroscopy imaging, and the rear hutch (BL10-2b), which has a dedicated 6-circle diffractometer that is used for materials scattering.  The BL10-2b rear hutch is equiped with a six-circle diffractometer for x-ray diffraction/scattering.  The beamline supports the use of multiple area detectors, as well as point detectors with a crystal analyzer for higher angular resolution. 

Experimental Station 11-3

Beam line 11-3 is a fixed energy (12.7 keV) wiggler side-station dedicated primarily for wide angle x-ray scattering (WAXS). BL11-3 is equipped with a two-dimensional Rayonix MX225 CCD area detector. Supports sample-to-detector distances of 80-550 mm. There are sample environments available for both transmission and grazing incidence geometries. Sample heating is available for both single sample transmission and grazing incidence geometries.

Experimental Station 7-2

Beam line 7-2  is a wiggler end station dedicated for x-ray scattering with a focus on in-situ experiments.

Putting the Spin on Graphite: Observing the Spins of Impurity Atoms Align

February 28, 2014

Carbon-based materials are extremely lightweight and have thermal, mechanical and electrical properties that are of great interest for use in functional devices. Carbon materials can be manufactured in virtually any shape and even with dimensions on the micro- and nanoscales. Recent research is now aimed at exploiting the spin and magnetism of carbon-based materials for data storage devices – a field called spintronics.

Tunable Transmittance of Near-infrared and Visible Light in Reconstructed Nanocrystal-in-Glass Composite Films

October 31, 2013

Amorphous materials such as glasses have optical, electrochemical and transport characteristics that are closely linked to their inner structures. Modifying the structure of an amorphous material can create new properties that may be of interest for industrial applications. Recently, researchers have altered niobium oxide glass by inserting tin-doped indium oxide nanocrystals into its structure.

A General Relationship between Disorder, Aggregation, and Charge Transport in Conjugated Polymers

September 23, 2013

Films of semiconducting organic polymers are major candidates for new materials, with industrial applications ranging from lighting equipment to solar cells to electronic devices. In order to fully exploit these materials, scientists must first understand how polymer films transport electric charge.

Highly Oriented Crystals in Polythiophenes

April 24, 2006

Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL) and Stanford researchers have now shown that the electrical performance of plastic semiconductors can be controlled and improved with surface treatments. In their research, published in Nature Materials, they showed they could align the small crystals within the polymer by applying a thin layer of another kind of organic molecule on to the surface. The highly-oriented crystals give the material better performance in conducting electricity. Researchers used x-ray scattering facilities at SSRL to determine the orientation of the crystals.

Femtosecond Diffractive Imaging with a Soft-X-ray FEL

November 30, 2006

Scientists have for the first time used an extremely short and intense coherent soft x-ray laser pulse to successfully obtain a high-resolution image of a nano-scale object before the sample was destroyed by the energy impact of the pulse. The experiment, conducted at Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg by a collaboration that included researchers from the Photon Science Directorate at SLAC, also set a speed record of 25 femtoseconds for the duration of the x-ray pulse used to acquire the image. The results are published in the November 12 online edition and the December printed edition of Nature Physics.

Following a Structural Phase Transition in Real Time with Atomic Spatial Resolution

November 28, 2005

When a snowball melts, you can tell it has achieved a liquid state when the frigid water drips through your fingers. But if you could follow the melting process, driven by the heat of your hand, from its very first moments - the first trillionth of second, would you be able to point to the exact moment the snowflake crystals disorder into liquid H2O? That's the challenge facing researchers using the Sub-Picosecond Pulse Source (SPPS) to probe the activities of materials on ultrafast timescales. SPPS makes intense x-ray pulses lasting quadrillionths of a second (femtoseconds), enabling researchers to directly monitor the earliest atomic changes during melting with ultrafast x-ray diffraction.

X-ray Characterization of Lithium-Sulfur Batteries in Action

June 22, 2012

Dramatic improvements in energy storage devices are essential to meet the increasing need to move away from fossil fuels and toward clean, renewable energy. Rechargeable lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries hold great potential for high-performance energy storage systems because they have a high theoretical specific energy, low cost, and are eco-friendly; but a better understanding of how the battery functions is required to design improvements for higher efficiency and capacity.

Synchrotron Mesodiffraction: A Tool for Understanding Turbine Engine Foreign Object Damage

September 30, 2003

Aircraft turbine engines are prone to ingesting pebbles and other debris that can damage jet engine fan blades, dramatically reducing the longevity of the components - sometimes catastrophically. Failures associated with such "foreign object damage" cost the aerospace industry an estimated $4 billion a year. Studies at SSRL have helped show how and why fan blades - which normally experience significant stresses during flying - fatigue sooner than expected from foreign object damage.

Effect of Chemical Pressure on the Charge Density Wave Transition in Rare-Earth Tritellurides RTe3

February 29, 2008

A collaboration between scientists at SSRL and the department of Applied Physics at Stanford University has determined the phase diagram of a new family of prototypical charge density wave (CDW) compounds. These compounds have the chemical formula RTe3, where R represents a rare earth element from La to Tm. In research, the collaborators have used X-ray diffraction and resistivity measurements to determine the factors affecting the symmetry of the CDW state, specifically whether the CDW runs in one direction or two.

In Situ and Ex Situ Studies of Platinum Nanocrystals: Growth and Evolution in Solution

January 25, 2010

Crystals of different sizes and shapes have different functional properties. This is certainly true in the case of platinum nanocrystals, which can be used to increase catalytic reactions including hydrogen cell fuel oxidation. Understanding crystallization processes will allow researchers to fine-tune the shape, size, and quality of crystals for specific, tailored applications.

Understanding Charge Transport in Plastic Electronics

August 31, 2009

Recent advances in materials research are setting the stage for macroelectronics to have a disruptive effect on everyday technology. While microelectronics focuses of the miniaturization of electronic devices (think of the shrinking iPod), macroelectronics is the replication and integration of microelectronic devices onto large areas such as display backplanes (big screen TVs and electronic billboards), large-area photovoltaics (flexible solar cells) and radio frequency ID tags. One class of materials that has demonstrated great promise as the semiconducting layer in these macroelectronics devices is polymer semiconductors, which allow for potentially inexpensive manufacturing from solutions.

Effects of Thermal Annealing On the Morphology of Polymer–Fullerene Blends for Organic Solar Cells

January 31, 2011

Organic solar cells, which use organic polymers or small organic molecules to convert sunlight into a useable form of energy, are a promising new tool for providing inexpensive, environmentally friendly energy. To date organic solar cells have demonstrated comparatively low rates of efficiency, stability and strength.  However, there is much room for improvement before the theoretical efficiency limits are reached.

Uncovering the relationship between the active layer structure and device performance in organic solar cells

February 28, 2011

Currently, organic or plastic solar cells are relatively inexpensive to make, yet they are also relatively inefficient. Researchers from Princeton University and SSRL recently studied the structure of organic solar cells that were manufactured and processed in different ways to better understand the causes of the inefficiencies.

Interdiffusion of PCBM and P3HT in Bulk Heterojunction Blends

March 28, 2011

Organic or plastic solar cells have achieved efficiencies greater than 8%, close to the estimated 10% needed to make them economically viable. To close the gap, researchers need to improve control of the nanostructure of the active layer of these organic solar cells.

Enhanced Charge Transport in Printed Small Organic Semiconductor Thin Films due to Strained Molecular Packing

January 30, 2012

Organic semiconductors could usher in an era of foldable smart phones, better high-definition television screens and clothing made of materials that can harvest energy from the sun needed to charge your iPod or iPad, but there is one serious drawback: Organic semiconductors, while inexpensive, do not conduct electricity very well.

Resonant X-ray Reflectivity Study of Perovskite Oxide Superlattices

February 27, 2012

Materials that exhibit magnetism, superconductivity (the ability of electrons to travel without resistance across a material), and ferroelectricity (important for capacitors and used, for example, in medical ultrasound machines, infrared cameras and fire sensors) are the subject of significant scientific and technological research. These properties can depend strongly on the roughness of interfaces between layers as well as the thickness of these layers (often each a mere ~2.5 nanometers, or 1/16,000th the width of a human hair, thick); as such, the ability to characterize these layers at high-resolution is important.  Yet few characterization techniques exist that have the ability to characterize the structure and uniformity of such complex structures.

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