NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1084340
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Dec
Pages: 5
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0021-9584
An Inquiry-Based Project Focused on the X-Ray Powder Diffraction Analysis of Common Household Solids
Hulien, Molly L.; Lekse, Jonathan W.; Rosmus, Kimberly A.; Devlin, Kasey P.; Glenn, Jennifer R.; Wisneski, Stephen D.; Wildfong, Peter; Lake, Charles H.; MacNeil, Joseph H.; Aitken, Jennifer A.
Journal of Chemical Education, v92 n12 p21522156 Dec 2015
While X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD) is a fundamental analytical technique used by solid-state laboratories across a breadth of disciplines, it is still underrepresented in most undergraduate curricula. In this work, we incorporate XRPD analysis into an inquiry-based project that requires students to identify the crystalline component(s) of familiar household products. Centering the project on materials which students encounter in their everyday lives helps to demystify the technique, making it accessible to everyone with a basic understanding of crystallinity and unit cells. In an XRPD study, each crystalline component generates a unique set of peaks in the diffractogram. Comparing the collected diffractogram to a library of diffractograms for known crystalline materials allows students to identify the crystalline components in their unknown. Students must determine for themselves the chemical compositions of the possible unknowns, and link their findings back to the analysis of the collected data. Initially challenging, this is the part of the work they respond to most strongly. This lab includes a data collection component, but its inquiry-based objectives can still be achieved by providing the students with simulated diffractograms when the appropriate instrumentation is unavailable.
Division of Chemical Education, Inc and ACS Publications Division of the American Chemical Society. 1155 Sixteenth Street NW, Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 800-227-5558; Tel: 202-872-4600; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: DUE0511444