WAXS analysis

Wide-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS) is a form of X-ray crystallography used to determine the crystalline structures of partially ordered substances, such as man-made polymers and biomolecules. It provides information about sub-nanometer scale structures, including the degree of crystallinity and interatomic spacing, by analyzing diffraction patterns at wide angles.

WAXS analysis
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What is WAXS used for?

WAXS has multiple applications in fields including polymer research, biological analysis, and nanomaterial characterization. Some of these include:

  • Determining the degree of crystallinity in polymer samples, including both man-made and naturally occurring materials

  • Structural analysis of biomacromolecules, such as proteins

  • Analyzing the phase-composition of thin films

  • Monitoring the formation and analyzing the structural characteristics of nanoparticles and colloids

  • Phase analysis of composite materials where phase boundaries correspond to changes in crystallinity

  • Research and development of pharmaceutical and consumer goods

How does WAXS work?

In WAXS, the sample is initially irradiated with an X-ray beam, which interacts with the electrons within the sample, upon which the X-rays are scattered to varying degrees. These scattered X-rays and their intensities are then detected at wide angles relative to the incident beam. This can be used to produce a diffraction pattern, which indicates precisely where the atoms exist within the sample and how crystalline (i.e. how well ‘ordered’) that region of the sample is.

Sample requirements and preparation

WAXS analysis is suitable for a wide range of sample materials including solids, powders, gels, pastes, and liquids. Depending on the sample type, materials can be mounted onto a flat-plate sample holder or loaded into a suitable capillary for measurement.

Advantages and limitations of WAXS

WAXS is a non-destructive method that can provide very specific information regarding sub-nanoscopic structures, which makes it extremely valuable for determining structural information on this scale from a wide range of materials. However, it is less suitable for structural analysis on larger scales, in which case small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) is more appropriate.

Likewise, techniques such as nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy provide detailed insights into the chemical structure of a sample, while WAXS reveals information about the inter-atomic spatial arrangement of molecules. These three techniques are often used in conjunction to obtain a comprehensive understanding of a material's structure.

Suitable sample matrices

  • Proteins
  • Polymers
  • Gels
  • Nanoparticles
  • Colloids
  • Composite materials
  • Thin films

Ideal uses of WAXS analysis

  • Characterization of man-made polymers
  • Analysis of biomolecules
  • Protein studies
  • Phase analysis of films and composite materials
  • Pharmaceutical and consumer goods development
  • Research into nanoparticle formation and structure

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Frequently asked questions

What is Measurlabs?

Measurlabs offers a variety of laboratory analyses for product developers and quality managers. We perform some of the analyses in our own lab, but mostly we outsource them to carefully selected partner laboratories. This way we can send each sample to the lab that is best suited for the purpose, and offer high-quality analyses with more than a thousand different methods to our clients.

How does the service work?

When you contact us through our contact form or by email, one of our specialists will take ownership of your case and answer your query. You get an offer with all the necessary details about the analysis, and can send your samples to the indicated address. We will then take care of sending your samples to the correct laboratories and write a clear report on the results for you.

How do I send my samples?

Samples are usually delivered to our laboratory via courier. Contact us for further details before sending samples.