X-ray birefringence imaging

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Abstract

The polarizing optical microscope has been used since the 19th century to study the structural anisotropy of materials, based on the phenomenon of optical birefringence. In contrast, the phenomenon of x-ray birefringence has been demonstrated only recently and has been shown to be a sensitive probe of the orientational properties of individual molecules and/or bonds in anisotropic solids. Here, we report a technique—x-ray birefringence imaging (XBI)—that enables spatially resolved mapping of x-ray birefringence of materials, representing the x-ray analog of the polarizing optical microscope. Our results demonstrate the utility and potential of XBI as a sensitive technique for imaging the local orientational properties of anisotropic materials, including characterization of changes in molecular orientational ordering associated with solid-state phase transitions and identification of the size, spatial distribution, and temperature dependence of domain structures.

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