Accurate charge densities from powder X-ray diffraction – a new version of the Aarhus vacuum imaging-plate diffractometer

Acta Crystallographica Section B: Structural Science, Crystal Engineering and Materials, International Union of Crystallography (IUCr), ISSN 2052-5192

Volume 73, 4, 2017

DOI:10.1107/s2052520617006357, Dimensions: pub.1090926388, PMID: 28762964,



  1. (1) Aarhus University, grid.7048.b, AU
  2. (2) DESY, grid.7683.a
  3. (3) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU







In recent years powder X-ray diffraction has proven to be a valuable alternative to single-crystal X-ray diffraction for determining electron-density distributions in high-symmetry inorganic materials, including subtle deformation in the core electron density. This was made possible by performing diffraction measurements in vacuum using high-energy X-rays at a synchrotron-radiation facility. Here we present a new version of our custom-built in-vacuum powder diffractometer with the sample-to-detector distance increased by a factor of four. In practice this is found to give a reduction in instrumental peak broadening by approximately a factor of three and a large improvement in signal-to-background ratio compared to the previous instrument. Structure factors of silicon at room temperature are extracted using a combined multipole-Rietveld procedure and compared with ab initio calculations and the results from the previous diffractometer. Despite some remaining issues regarding peak asymmetry, the new diffractometer yields structure factors of comparable accuracy to the previous diffractometer at low angles and improved accuracy at high angles. The high quality of the structure factors is further assessed by modelling of core electron deformation with results in good agreement with previous investigations.


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