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X-ray spectrometer

X-ray spectrometer
1912 AD invented

The father-and-son scientific team of William Lawrence Bragg and William Henry Bragg, who were 1915 Nobel Prize Winners, were the original pioneers in developing X-ray emission spectroscopy.

An example of a spectrometer developed by William Henry Bragg, which was used by both father and son to investigate the structure of crystals, can be seen at the Science Museum, London.

Jointly they measured the X-ray wavelengths of many elements to high precision, using high-energy electrons as excitation source. The cathode ray tube or an x-ray tube was the method used to pass electrons through a crystal of numerous elements. They also painstakingly produced numerous diamond-ruled glass diffraction gratings for their spectrometers. The law of diffraction of a crystal is called Bragg's law in their honor.

Intense and wavelength-tunable X-rays are now typically generated with synchrotrons. In a material, the X-rays may suffer an energy loss compared to the incoming beam. This energy loss of the re-emerging beam reflects an internal excitation of the atomic system, an X-ray analogue to the well-known Raman spectroscopy that is widely used in the optical region.

In the X-ray region there is sufficient energy to probe changes in the electronic state (transitions between orbitals; this is in contrast with the optical region, where the energy loss is often due to changes in the state of the rotational or vibrational degrees of freedom). For instance, in the ultra soft X-ray region (below about 1 keV), crystal field excitations give rise to the energy loss.

The photon-in-photon-out process may be thought of as a scattering event. When the x-ray energy corresponds to the binding energy of a core-level electron, this scattering process is resonantly enhanced by many orders of magnitude. This type of X-ray emission spectroscopy is often referred to as resonant inelastic X-ray scattering (RIXS).

Due to the wide separation of orbital energies of the core levels, it is possible to select a certain atom of interest. The small spatial extent of core level orbitals forces the RIXS process to reflect the electronic structure in close vicinity of the chosen atom. Thus, RIXS experiments give valuable information about the local electronic structure of complex systems, and theoretical calculations are relatively simple to perform.

Leeds, England
Lattitude: 53.7997° N
Longitude: 1.5491° W
Region: Europe
Modern Day United Kingdom
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