In order to develop an optimum system for flash x-ray diffraction, consideration must be given to both optimum x-ray generation and optimum x-ray detection in the correct wavelength regime suitable for diffraction. Historically, most workers have concentrated their efforts in either the generation area or detection area, but not both. As early as 1942, experimental recording of Laue diffraction patterns was reported using a pulsed x-ray generator and exposure times of milliseconds. Recently, successful x-ray diffraction experiments have been reported with exposure times less than 100 nanoseconds.
The purpose of the present paper is to trace the development of generation and detection systems for flash x-ray diffraction and to summarize the present state-of-the-art for such systems. A comparative evaluation is presented for flash x-ray diffraction systems using generators which rely on increased electron beam current and those which rely on higher potential difference. Comparison is also made between detection systems incorporating film recording, scintillators fiber-optically coupled to photomultiplier tubes, and image-intensifier systems both lens and fiber-optically coupled to fluorescent screens.
A detailed description of the most rapid flash x-ray diffraction system developed to date is given. This system uses a Field Emission Fexitron single channel 300 kilovolt pulsed x-ray generator incorporating an x-ray tube with a beryllium output window. A fluorescent screen converts the x-ray diffraction image into a visible one and this visible image is focused on the first stage photocathode of an image intensifier tube either by direct fiber-optic coupling or by using a coupling lens. The image intensifier tube used is a cascaded three-stage electrostatic focus type with fiber-optic input and output faceplates and inter-stage couplers. Using this system Laue transmission diffraction patterns of single crystals and powder patterns of polycrystalline aggregates have been obtained with exposure times of 30 nanoseconds.