Report on SNBL workshop on simultaneous Raman-X-ray diffraction/absorption studies for the in-situ investigation of solid state transformations and reactions at non ambient conditions
Grenoble June 18 June 19 2008

X-ray diffraction (XRD) and absorption spectroscopy (XAS) are the principal techniques used to investigate long and short-range order of atoms and molecules in the solid state, respectively. The Raman technique, in contrast, has the ability to probe the length scale between these two extremes. The synergy between these methodologies has attracted application to many scientific studies where the Raman and XRD or XAS techniques have been performed ex-situ and independently in-situ. The SNBL has further developed their beamline such that these three fundamental probes (XRD-XAS and Raman) can be combined under a wide range of external sample stimuli. This new approach has opened up many new avenues of research and offers vital new detail in the study of materials and solid state sciences. Similar initiatives have recently also been undertaken at other Synchrotrons: APS, Soleil, SLS, Diamond, Bessy, Anka, other ESRF beamlines and even in home laboratories. The time was right for a first meeting on combining methods at synchrotrons.

All above mentioned laboratories were represented within the 78 participants as well as industrial partners. The participants, coming from 14 countries divided over all continents, created a very stimulating, constructive and friendly environment for exchanging both scientific and technical know-how and creating new ideas. Lunches were taken in the shade of the trees around the Chalet on the ESRF site and the dinner was taken at elevated height on the spectacular Bastille site in Grenoble.

As mentioned already the combination of techniques has found applications in many scientific fields. Among the speakers were experts in Raman scattering from Biology, Physics and Chemistry. Excellent presentations were for instance given on identification of ligand-bound or intermediate states in Macromolecules, surface versus bulk sensitivity, structure dynamics in combination with computational chemistry, nano structured ferroelectrics, structure activity relationships on supported oxide catalysts, catalysts in general, micro-focus applications, high throughput screening and possible future developments on sensitivity enhancement. All of the speakers exploited in one form or another the almost endless complementarities between the different techniques dependent on their specific case. The need to combine techniques became with every presentation more and more obvious to anyone in the audience. Many of the presented studies were performed under complex and multiple external stimuli making it impossible to reproduce the experiments on individual machines. It was also extremely stimulating to observe that excellent science has already been performed on the freshly installed installations around the world and that proceedings of this workshop will be published in journal of Phase Transitions. Consequently indicating a long and bright future for the in situ time resolved combination of techniques. The participants were finally very happy to hear the announcement that a follow up workshop will organized by the people from Soleil in 2010.

Wouter van Beek, Marco Milanesio and Vladimir Dmitriev