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Acta Crystallographica Section A

Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations and Advances covers theoretical and fundamental aspects of the structure of matter. The journal is the prime forum for research in diffraction physics and the theory of crystallographic structure determination

Published: 2018-01-01


Quasicrystals: What do we know? What do we want to know? What can we know?


More than 35 years and 11 000 publications after the discovery of quasicrystals by Dan Shechtman, quite a bit is known about their occurrence, formation, stability, structures and physical properties. It has also been discovered that quasiperiodic self-assembly is not restricted to intermetallics, but can take place in systems on the meso- and macroscales. However, there are some blank areas, even in the centre of the big picture. For instance, it has still not been fully clarified whether quasicrystals are just entropy-stabilized high-temperature phases or whether they can be thermodynamically stable at 0 K as well. More studies are needed for developing a generally accepted model of quasicrystal growth. The state of the art of quasicrystal research is briefly reviewed and the main as-yet unanswered questions are addressed, as well as the experimental limitations to finding answers to them. The focus of this discussion is on quasicrystal structure analysis as well as on quasicrystal stability and growth mechanisms.

Small-angle X-ray scattering tensor tomography: model of the three-dimensional reciprocal-space map, reconstruction algorithm and angular sampling requirements


Small-angle X-ray scattering tensor tomography, which allows reconstruction of the local three-dimensional reciprocal-space map within a three-dimensional sample as introduced by Liebi et al. [Nature (2015), 527, 349–352], is described in more detail with regard to the mathematical framework and the optimization algorithm. For the case of trabecular bone samples from vertebrae it is shown that the model of the three-dimensional reciprocal-space map using spherical harmonics can adequately describe the measured data. The method enables the determination of nanostructure orientation and degree of orientation as demonstrated previously in a single momentum transfer q range. This article presents a reconstruction of the complete reciprocal-space map for the case of bone over extended ranges of q. In addition, it is shown that uniform angular sampling and advanced regularization strategies help to reduce the amount of data required.

Construction of weavings in the plane


This work develops, in graph-theoretic terms, a methodology for systematically constructing weavings of overlapping nets derived from 2-colorings of the plane. From a 2-coloring, two disjoint simple, connected graphs called nets are constructed. The union of these nets forms an overlapping net, and a weaving map is defined on the intersection points of the overlapping net to form a weaving. Furthermore, a procedure is given for the construction of mixed overlapping nets and for deriving weavings from them.

Improving the convergence rate of a hybrid input–output phasing algorithm by varying the reflection data weight


In an iterative projection algorithm proposed for ab initio phasing, the error metrics typically exhibit little improvement until a sharp decrease takes place as the iteration converges to the correct high-resolution structure. Related to that is the small convergence probability for certain structures. As a remedy, a variable weighting scheme on the diffraction data is proposed. It focuses on phasing low- and medium-resolution data first. The weighting shifts to incorporate more high-resolution reflections when the iteration proceeds. It is found that the precipitous drop in error metrics is replaced by a less dramatic drop at an earlier stage of the iteration. It seems that once a good configuration is formed at medium resolution, convergence towards the correct high-resolution structure is almost guaranteed. The original problem of phasing all diffraction data at once is reduced to a much more manageable one due to the dramatically smaller number of reflections involved. As a result, the success rate is significantly enhanced and the speed of convergence is raised. This is illustrated by applying the new algorithm to several structures, some of which are very difficult to solve without data weighting.

A one-step mechanism for new twinning modes in magnesium and titanium alloys modelled by the obliquity correction of a (58°, a + 2b) prototype stretch twin


The \{ 11{\overline 2}2\} and \{ 11{\overline 2}6\} twinning modes were recently discovered by Ostapovets et al. [Philos. Mag. (2017), 97, 1088–1101] and interpreted as \{ {10{\overline 1}2} \}–\{ {10{\overline 1}2} \} double twins formed by the simultaneous action of two twinning shears. Another interpretation is proposed here in which the two conjugate twinning modes result from a one-step mechanism based on a (58°, a + 2b) prototype stretch twin and differ from each other only by their obliquity correction. The results are also compared with the classical theory of twinning and with the Westlake–Rosenbaum model.

The limit of application of the Scherrer equation


The Scherrer equation is a widely used tool to obtain crystallite size from polycrystalline samples. Its limit of applicability has been determined recently, using computer simulations, for a few structures and it was proposed that it is directly dependent on the linear absorption coefficient (μ0) and Bragg angle (θB). In this work, a systematic study of the Scherrer limit is presented, where it is shown that it is equal to approximately 11.9% of the extinction length. It is also shown that absorption imposes a maximum value on it and that this maximum is directly proportional to sin θB/μ0.

Multislice imaging of integrated circuits by precession X-ray ptychography


A method for nondestructively visualizing multisection nanostructures of integrated circuits by X-ray ptychography with a multislice approach is proposed. In this study, tilt-series ptychographic diffraction data sets of a two-layered circuit with a ∼1.4 µm gap at nine incident angles are collected in a wide Q range and then artifact-reduced phase images of each layer are successfully reconstructed at ∼10 nm resolution. The present method has great potential for the three-dimensional observation of flat specimens with thickness on the order of 100 µm, such as three-dimensional stacked integrated circuits based on through-silicon vias, without laborious sample preparation.