With the explosive growth in the number of highly automated powder diffraction systems, many types of analyses which were previously considered a specialty analysis are now performed on a routine basis. Algorithms have been developed for measuring peak profiles from which crystallite sizes, residual microstrain, and X-ray crystal structure (Rietveld techniques for example) can be determined. However, these techniques require an instrumental peak profile calibration standard to correct the experimental data for instrumental broadening due to the system optics.
Significant problems are encountered when laboratories try to cross-correlate or reproduce published data due to the lack of a common reference material for instrumental calibration. This is particularly distressing in microstrain and crystallite size calculations which can be dramatically affected by a poor choice of standard materials. Microstrain and crystallite size measurement are becoming increasingly important for the characterization of advanced materials and catalysts.