MRI Consortium: Development of Environmental Control for Resonant X-ray Scattering on Organic Samples

Project: Research project

Project Details


Nanoscale interactions and structures within organic materials are of critical importance for our understanding of their macroscopic properties and functions. These organic materials range from engineered (e.g. Kevlar, polymer batteries) to biological (e.g. cellular proteins), but what is common among them is that final solid properties are seeded during liquid processing or that many of their properties and functions only occur in specific operational environments. Resonant soft X-ray scattering (RSoXS) is uniquely capable of probing the nanostructure of these materials using intrinsic chemical bonds within the molecules, but currently RSoXS can only be performed on samples suspended in a vacuum. In this project, RSoXS will be combined with environmental control suitable to create the conditions in which these organic systems operate. The developed instrument will be first of its kind and provide an exquisite view into the molecular interactions and structures that govern formation and operation of organic matter during such formation and operation, and therefore, enable leaps in understanding and control of materials for technology, energy, and life. The availability of such facility will continue to place the USA at the international forefront of X-ray science for many years to come.

Resonant soft X-ray scattering (RSoXS) utilizes intrinsic chemical sensitivity of absorption fine structure of molecular transitions from core electronic orbitals. The technique, therefore, is uniquely sensitive to molecular bonds and their orientation in organic materials where no or low crystallinity and/or density contrast exists and, furthermore, does not require laborious and potentially disruptive labeling. Thus it is particularly useful in investigating interactions and structures of small molecules, polymers and proteins that drive materials properties and biological functions. Currently, however, samples are investigated in vacuum, limiting the study of these materials. This project funds the development, construction and installation of sample environmental control for RSoXS at beamline of the Advanced Light Source (ALS) at Berkeley National Laboratory. Such an instrument will enable measurements of nano-to-mesoscale structure and interaction of organic molecules under full environmental control (gasses, liquids, temperatures, electric fields, and charges). The project will combine the superior sensitivity and selectivity of RSoXS to organic molecules and their orientations with the ability to measure their structure and interactions in their in-situ or in-operando environments. Such an ability to probe organic matter in their native environment is critical to obtaining information that is relevant to the very applications in which they form, exist and function.

Effective start/end date9/1/168/31/19


  • National Science Foundation: $509,939.00


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