Powder diffraction utilizes x-rays (in this case, generated from a copper target) to probe a sample. The incident x-rays are directed towards a sample, which is rotated or stepped through a given angular range. At certain angles (i.e., Bragg angles), crystalline substance will diffract the beam, where it is detected by a scintillator and counted. The angles at which a crystalline substance diffracts are characteristic of a particular crystal structure. Through interpretation of the diffraction pattern, the substance or components in a mixture can be identified. Although powder diffraction is typically limited to larger amounts of sample, new sample preparation methods make analysis of small amounts of powder feasible.
Microtrace provides powder x-ray diffraction for phase identification and quantification through Rietveld analysis.