X-Ray Crystallographic Research

Knowledge of structure and form leads to understanding function of materials. Better understanding of function allows us to improve both the efficiency and effectiveness of materials. My research question is, how can the internal structure of crystals be determined using x-ray diffraction? X-ray diffraction is the physical process of finding a 2D pattern of specific crystal structure with an x-ray diffractometer, and x-ray crystallography encompasses all the techniques needed to image the crystal and work back to calculate the 3D structure. This analytic technique could be applied to virtually all solid materials; here it will be focused on photoresponsive materials which have numerous applications in fluorescence-based environmental sensing, optical computing memory, LEDs, and photocatalysts.Fluorescence-based environmental sensing means using certain photoreactive molecules to help collect spatiotemporal data on vegetation and ecosystems. Optical computing applications have to do with increasing the efficiency, reliability, or cost effectiveness of the methods used in optoelectronic systems. Optoelectronics involve using photons, or the smallest increments of light, in place of electrons to do computations. Light-emitting diodes are commonly known as LEDs and can be improved in their efficiency, cost reduction, lifespan, etc. They are extremely useful and becoming more ubiquitous every year. Lastly, the world needs to work on cleaning up it’s waste. Photocatalysts are compounds that speed up the decay of detrimental pollutants by using the UV in sunlight, so anyway that we can enhance the use of photocatalysts (such as more variety of what can be catalyzed, less amount of sunlight needed, use of more abundant materials, etc.) will help advance society. This research will require experimental skills of using the x-ray diffractometer, interpreting the diffraction patterns using familiarity with space group symmetry, and understanding the math that transforms multiple diffraction patterns into electron density maps (which effectively give us the structure of the crystal). These skill sets are widely applicable to other fields of chemistry and solid state physics. Even though my research is on photoresponsive materials, this knowledge will allow me to analyze the structure of any crystalline materials that are a part of the other chemistry labs or condensed matter labs in the physics department.


How X-Ray Crystallography Works

X-Ray Crystallography