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Welcome to the Earth Materials Instrumentation Facility in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Montana! Our mission is to identify the crystal structure and mineralogy in powdered samples using X-ray diffraction (XRD).

X-ray diffraction (XRD) primarily determines the mineralogy of a powdered sample based on the interactions of X-rays and crystals. In accordance with Bragg’s law, the X-rays diffract through a crystal lattice of the powder, generating a pattern (diffractogram) representing diffraction angles around the focus of the X-rays. Crystalline substances have unique diffraction patterns, which can be compared to diffraction patterns of known substances to determine the composition of the unknown powder. In addition to identification, XRD can be used to measure the crystal properties and crystallite size of crystalline materials, as well as to quantify mixtures of crystalline substances.