Key Uses for Advanced XRD Testing
To keep us safe in life, scientists use highly technical testing systems and protocols to determine the composition of materials and products that we use or work with. This advanced testing is utilized across a variety of fields and disciplines, ranging from geology and engineering to pharmaceuticals, chemistry and materials science. One of these sophisticated testing methodologies is XRD, which was first discovered in April of 1912 at the Institute of Theoretical Physics within the University of Munich. Max von Laue, who originally suggested the experiment, was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2014 for his discovery.
When XRD testing is performed, one of the first steps is to grind the sample into a fine powdered form. Then you can use XRD, or X-Ray diffraction, to analyze the specific crystal structure of a given sample. Basically, when you use this testing methodology the X-rays are diffracted by the unique atoms in the material being tested. The specific diffraction patterns give us information about how atoms are arranged within the crystalline structure of the sample being studied. Measurements of the intensities and the unique angles of the X-rays that are scattered are used to determine the unique crystalline composition.
XRD Testing for Acid Mine Drainage
This form of testing can also be used to quantify the proportions of different minerals within a sample. Soil from areas that may have been subject to drainage from acid mines can be analyzed, allowing scientists to determine what secondary minerals and small-grained precipitates are present.
Acid discharge from mines occurs when minerals of iron sulfide, like pyrite, start weathering. When the sulfide minerals are altered, they can actually form secondary mineral elements or go into solution. XRD tests show the mineral properties, and can also shed light on the transport and solubility of the elements.
Remote-Sensing and XRD Analyses
In an effort to help protect us against landslides and damaging mudflows, scientists utilized remote sensing in conjunction with XRD to look at clay-rich rocks on some of the Cascade volcanoes. The rocks there have been altered hydrothermally and were being studied because it’s believed that they directly contribute to potential slides and dangerous flows of mud.
XRD was specifically used to identify the exact minerals in these rocks. This testing technique provided information on the saline materials that were present, including borates. The detailed knowledge developed by analyzing these samples helped scientists understand key absorption features.
The Use of XRD in the Pharmaceutical Industry
XRD analyses are extremely useful in the development of new drugs that serve public health needs. This testing method can accurately identify the minerals and components of each specific drug. In addition, experts at pharmaceutical companies also use it to maintain quality control at every stage of the manufacturing process.
In-depth testing at all of the product stages allows companies to improve their product formulas and increase stability of the drugs in a variety of environments. They can also test for and analyze compatibility of the excipients, as well as determining bioavailability of the products.