Dahl, Lawrence F. University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisconsin.
Last reviewed:June 2020
- Bragg's law
- Reciprocal lattice
- Sphere of reflection
- Crystal structure determination
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The study of crystal structures by x-ray diffraction techniques. The prediction in 1912 by the German physicist Max von Laue that crystals might be employed as natural diffraction gratings in the study of x-rays was experimentally verified in the same year by W. Friedrich and P. Knipping, who obtained diffraction patterns photographically by the so-called Laue method. Almost immediately after (1913), W. Lawrence Bragg not only successfully analyzed the structures of sodium chloride and potassium chloride by Laue photographs but also developed a simple treatment of x-ray scattering by a crystal (the Bragg law) which proved much easier to apply than the more complicated but equivalent Laue theory of diffraction. The availability of the first x-ray spectrometer, constructed by his father, William H. Bragg, as well as the substitution of monochromatic (single-wavelength) for polychromatic x-ray radiation, enabled W. L. Bragg to determine a number of simple crystal structures, including those of diamond; zincblende, ZnS; fluorspar, CaF2; and pyrites, FeF2.
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