14. November 2016

Debye-Rietveld celebration, Amsterdam 2016: Bringing it all back home

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It was not too long after Braggs’ findings that Peter Debye set another two milestones that revolutionized X-ray diffraction theory. The first was in 1916, when he constructed a setup for diffraction experiments on bulk materials, which made the leap from fundamental to applied science and gave rise to X-Ray Powder Diffraction (XRPD). The second was Debye’s scattering equation, a single relation that redefined the fundaments of the approach by expanding it to non-crystalline materials. These two contributions were so powerful, that it took almost fifty years before the technique was transformed again. In 1969, Hugo Rietveld presented the novel approach to model XRPD pattern, a fast and efficient tool for extracting quantitative and structural information from the data that can be used by anyone… with access to a computer.

A lot has happened since, and this year the 50th and 100th anniversary of the contributions of these great Dutch scientists was celebrated in their home country. The Dutch Crystallographic Society invited experts to review how these groundbreaking equations and their reinterpretations formed contemporary material science. To look ahead, a generation of young researchers presented their projects and ideas that will shape the future directions of the technique.

One of these motivated researchers is Guzmán Peinado, whose attendance on the event was supported by DECTRIS.

“Being from Uruguay, it is sometimes hard to reach specific scientific communities. And seeing how science plays out in different environments as well as getting to know people with lots of experience and diverse backgrounds is crucial for a high-level research” comments Guzmán.

And Guzmán himself is an interdisciplinary researcher. He is a math teacher, currently working on his PhD both at the Inorganic Chemistry department and CRYSSMAT-LAB from Facultad de Química of the Universidad de la República in Uruguay. His interest in physical properties of micro- and nanocrystalline metal-organic frameworks has led him to many different analytical methods, and XRPD is one of them. So, a Debye-Rietveld celebration in Amsterdam seemed like a good place to be. As a mathematician, he could fully appreciate the development and connection between Rietveld’s and Debye’s equations, and as a chemist, he could recognize that these approaches can help to tailor structure-property relationship of MOFs. So, not surprisingly, Guzmán found the talk of Reinhardt Neder particularly interesting. “Neder’s talk was really inspiring because of his expertise in lanthanides and nanoparticles. His knowledge and confidence about the Pair Distribution Function method was also very motivating, it made me wonder about shifting my focus fully to characterization of nanosystems” says the winner of “The best poster” prize.

Although his poster addressed characterization of microcrystalline materials, a tendency towards synthesis of nanosystems is clearly visible. Now, with the fully implemented PDF methods, and the new high energy PILATUS3 CdTe detector, there is noting standing in the way to tailor-made MOFs!

We wish Guzmán all the best in his future work, and lots of PILATUS3 CdTe data!