The Characterization of Cryogenic Materials by X-Ray Absorption Methods
X-ray absorption techniques have in recent years been developed into powerful probes of the electronic and structural properties of materials difficult to study by other techniques. In particular, the extended x-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) technique can be applied to a variety of cryogenic materials. Three examples will be used to demonstrate the power of the technique. The first is the determination of the lattice location of dilute alloying additions such as Ta and Zr in Nb3Sn. The Ta additions are shown to reside predominately in Nb lattice sites, while Zr is not uniquely located at either Nb or Sn sites. In addition to structural information, temperature dependent EXAFS studies can be used to determine the rms deviations of atomic bond lengths, providing information about the temperature dependence of interatomic force constants. For Nb3Sn deviations are found from simple harmonic behavior at low temperatures which indicate a softening of the Nb-Sn bond strength. The final example is the study of interfacial properties in thin film systems. This is accomplished by making x-ray absorption measurements under conditions of total external reflection of the incident x-rays. As some examples will show this technique has great potential for studying interfacial reactions, a process used in the fabrication of many superconducting materials.
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