Two scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) were recently recognized for their groundbreaking work on the microstructure and dynamics in materials over many length scales and under real-world conditions. The scientists used USAXS, the ultra-small-angle x-ray scattering instrument at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory, in their discoveries.
U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker awarded the Department of Commerce Silver Medal to NIST’s Andrew Allen and Lyle Levine. The Silver Medal is the second-highest award granted by the Secretary for distinguished and exceptional scientific/engineering achievement. Allen and Levine used the USAXS camera on the X-ray Science Division’s (XSD’s) beamline 9-ID-C at the APS to conduct their research. Using x-ray scattering data generated by USAXS, the researchers could closely examine their samples’ microstructure and dynamics at different temperature, atmosphere, and pressure conditions.
X-ray instruments provide a high contrast between microstructural features in solids and liquids, and the USAXS instrument can determine the size or structure of a sample's components across multiple length scales from angstroms (10-10 meters) to about 20 micrometers (10-6 m).
Argonne’s Jan Ilavsky is the XSD beamline scientist for USAXS at beamline 9-ID-C. “If you want to follow the microstructural development in materials under real-world conditions like high temperature or in gas atmosphere, many routine instruments may be real challenge to use. Small-angle and ultra-small-angle x-ray scattering characterizes the structure by probing, non-destructively, the structure through windows and enclosures - and without complicated sample preparation,” Ilavsky said.
For more than 20 years, the APS has been a leading resource for scientists wishing to use bright x-rays to advance their research.