Fluctuation X-ray microscopy: A novel approach for the structural study of disordered materials

L. Fan, D. Paterson, I. McNulty, Michael Treacy, J. M. Gibson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Measuring medium-range order is a challenging and important problem in the structural study of disordered materials. We have developed a new technique, fluctuation x-ray microscopy, that offers quantitative insight into medium-range correlations in disordered materials at nanometre and larger length scales.In this technique, which requires a spatially coherent x-ray beam, a series of speckle patterns are measured at a large number of locations in a sample using various illumination sizes. Examination of the speckle variance as a function of the illumination spot size allows the structural correlation length to be measured. To demonstrate this technique we have studied polystyrene latex spheres, which serve as a model for a dense random-packed glass, and for the first time have measured the correlation length in a disordered system by fluctuation X-ray microscopy. We discuss data analysis and procedures to correct for shot noise and detector noise. This approach could be used to explore medium-range order and subtle spatial structural changes in a wide range of disordered materials, from soft matter to nanowire arrays, semiconductor quantum dot arrays and magnetic materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)41-48
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Microscopy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007


  • Coherent scattering
  • Disordered materials
  • Fluctuation X-ray microscopy
  • Medium-range order
  • Speckle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology


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