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Theory and computation of Atomic Form Factors

Edges of low-Z and medium-Z atoms can be used to test predictions of scattering, attenuation and diffraction processes in matter with X-ray irradiation. In the soft X-ray regime, Cherenkov radiation studies agree with recent theory but disagree with numerous other theoretical predictions and tabulations. Some of our theoretical developments in the computation of form factors have resulted in significant improvements upon earlier work, which can be tested by suitable experiments. Form factors (see the top of the X-ray optics home page) are used to determine the diffraction, scatttering and attenuation processes of light through matter. Within the X-ray regime it is an excellent approximation to talk about 'Atomic form factors' (neglecting chemical bonding and structure) and 'independent particle approximations' (treating each excitation as localized for a single electron). A result of this theory can make detailed and accurate predictions in physically interesting regimes of particular elements, such as the carbon K-edge illustrated here.

However, current comprehensive theories within these assumptions differ by many times their quoted 1% uncertainties in central X-ray regimes. A number of studies have supported the current theoretical results of CT Chantler at Melbourne, but more work is needed to investigate the theoretical and experimental dilemmas more closely. The theory is maintained as an extensive database available for general users: NIST - Maintained Reference Database FFAST, Author C.T. Chantler

[It is also available as NIST Database 66: Form Factor Attenuation scattering Tables, and in J. Phys.Chem Ref. Dat. 24 (1995) pp71-643 and J. Phys. Chem. Ref. Data. 29 (2000) 597-1056.] This topic is closely linked to the experimental investigations of diffraction and attenuation.

Atomic Form Image


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Rubix Cube Related Links
Atomic Form Factors Flash Animation Information on the prototype satellite telescope.
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Page Related Links:

  • Experimental Measurement of Attenenuation and Scattering in Matter
    Looks at the importance of careful attenuation measurement in differentiating between different theories.


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