Using Sophisticated Testing to Identify Unknown Materials


When you need to conduct in-depth studies that help identify unknown material that is crystalline in nature, you may turn to X-Ray Powder Diffraction (XRD). This technique allows you to perform testing on a sample and return information that leads to the identification of the material and its inherent structure. This process is used across many sciences, ranging from geology and environmental to biology and material science. It’s also useful in the engineering field.

Basically, the test returns results that are then compared to reference databases that catalog an extensive variety of substances along with their unique signatures. This comparison lets a technician or a scientist be able to identify the exact minerals that are in the sample. The results also include important data about aspects of the crystal, including its structure, orientation and phases. In the event the sample contains multiple substances, the percentage of each mineral present will be noted.

1Primary Applications of XRD Testing and Technology

There is a wide range of possible applications related to X-Ray Diffraction testing and analysis. In addition to specifically quantifying the structure and materials associated with crystalline items, it’s possible to look at multi-component solids and detect acute phases of a crystalline nature. XRD also allows you to precisely measure the purity of a sample.

With X-Ray Diffraction, you can analyze and compare the percent of mixed material that is in amorphous vs. structured crystalline form. This technique allows for rapid testing when you need to quickly quantify multiple materials that are unknown. Only minimum sample preparation is required, and the testing itself is non-destructive in nature

2Analysis of Minerals in Environmental Studies

XRD testing has proved to be invaluable when it is used to analyze areas that have been adversely affected by issues related to acid mine drainage. When this situation is discovered, it is very important to catalog the precipitates that are fine-grained and also the secondary minerals. 

Acid in a mine can be created when materials made of iron sulfide, like pyrite, become weathered. As these are altered, they can transition into solution or can even form other minerals. The thorough analysis of all minerals present helps environmental scientists and geologists understand more about transport and solubility that affects the mining area.

3Discovering Key Facts About Coal Beds

XRD has also been used to successfully identify key information about coal beds. This is possible because the testing can examine variation in key minerals along vertical and lateral stretches of the deposit. Additionally, the different elements present in the coal bed can be determined. 

When this data is combined and reviewed, it gives a detailed picture of the original formation of the coal bed. In-depth analysis of Appalachian underclays and paleosols were also used to build correlation models that helped catalog and identify potentially profitable zones for coal in the Western interior region.

X-Ray Diffraction allows for sophisticated testing of mineral and crystalline samples across a wide-range of sciences and industries. By comparing the analysis results against an extensive reference database, scientists and technicians can help pinpoint mineral composition and other key elements.