System Advances Materials Characterization

By Anna Lynn Spitzer

A state-of-the-art X-ray diffraction (XRD) system installed last week in Calit2’s Microscopy Center (part of LEXI, the Laboratory for Electron and X-ray Instrumentation), continues UCI’s march toward first-class materials characterization capabilities.

The Rigaku SmartLab allows even novice users to analyze the structure of thin films, nanomaterials, powders, bulk solids and liquids. The software-based system contains an “intelligent” interface that guides users through their experiments in a completely automated way.

The instrument – a past winner of the R&D 100 Award for technical innovation – has a computer-controlled alignment system and an automated optical system, which facilitate materials measurements and produce higher-quality data faster than existing UCI tools. 

According to Matt Law, chemistry and chemical engineering/materials science professor and LEXI director, “The SmartLab is a versatile and powerful XRD that will enable our users in engineering, physical sciences and biological sciences to perform almost any conceivable X-ray scattering experiment. It is a key part of LEXI’s strategy to build a world-class XRD user facility on campus.”

The equipment will be operated by new staff scientist Qiyin Lin. Lin will also oversee a second XRD (a Rigaku Ultima III) to be installed in Calit2 in late April. “The SmartLab and Ultima systems give UCI top-notch XRD capabilities for materials research,” Law says.

The SmartLab instrument was funded by the UCI Office of Research and will be available to UCI and off-campus users on a recharge basis within the next month. 

Even novices will find this state-of-the-art system easy to use.