Ultra-Small-Angle X-ray Scattering Facility


Ultra-Small-Angle X-ray Scattering (USAXS/SAXS/WAXS

Contacts: e-mail, instrument scientist: Jan Ilavsky, 630-252-0866 and Ivan Kuzmenko, 630-252-0327. Before applying for beamtime, contact instrument staff and talk with them!

Our instrument - "USAXS/SAXS/WAXS" - consists of:
    1. USAXS, primary, Bonse-Hart device, required
    2. SAXS, fixed length (500mm), secondary device, optional
    3. WAXS, fixed length (300mm), secondary device, optional

The USAXS/SAXS/WAXS facility offers world-unique capabilities to wide range of communities in physics, chemistry, materials science, polymers, food science, biology, and many others. Data are measured over about: 

  • 5 decades in sizes - from approximately 6 microns to less than 1 Angstrom
  • Intensity range of up to 12 decades
  • About 3-4 minutes data collection time.

This is achieved by combination of Bonse-Hart design USAXS with SAXS and WAXS devises. See some example data in graphics below on this page.

Important :

Data are collected sequentially using one or more of our devices. USAXS use is required
Typical USAXS beam size is 0.8 x 0.8 mm. Beam size is flexible between 1 x 1 mm to 0.2 x 0.2 mm. Smaller beam sizes require stronger scattering systems. 
Standard SAXS/WAXS beam size is 0.8 x 0.2 mm and can be as small as 0.2 x 0.2 mm. Smaller beam sizes require longer exposure times. 
USAXS data collection time is 60 - 180 sec (typical ~ 90s), SAXS & WAXS is 1 - 60 sec each (typical ~ 20 sec).

    Want to see how USAXS operates? 3 min (166Mb) movie with data collection is here: USAXS_operations.mp4

    Current instrument paperIlavsky, J., Zhang, F., et al. (2018). "Development of combined microstructure and structure characterization facility for in situ and operando studies at the Advanced Photon Source." Journal Of Applied Crystallography 51, 867-882. https://doi.org/10.1107/S160057671800643X

    Access to our instrument:

    1. General User (GU) program (see "All about proposals here"). We provide about 80% of available USAXS beamtime to users this way. For COVID impact on access click here

    2. Mail in program: We make available about 2-3 days of beamtime per cycle to users, who have smaller sets of samples (typically less than 20 samples). Typical use is exploratory research (before applying for beamtime) or when project requires limited number of samples. No beamtime proposal is necessary and users cannot come for experiments to the APS. Samples will be handled by USAXS staff and reduced data will be sent back to users. For details see dedicated page

    3. Proprietary (industrial) research is available as part of GU program. Contact staff and APS users office, start here

    4. We also support SAXS-SANS collaboration mail-in program. Contact staff.

    If you want to apply for beamtime through any method, contact staff to discuss your need. For methods 2-4 you MUST talk to staff first

    Examples of USAXS results for general public:

    2018 additive manufacturing USAXS science highlight

    2019 Story about USAXS in chocolate science (APS version) (Confectionerynews version)

    2020 APS Scientific highlight (Pickering Emulsions)

    2021 APS Scientific highlight (Colloidal gels)

    APS Upgrade impact

    APS will be shut down from summer 2023 to summer 2024, for details see here. This will impact USAXS/SAXS/WAXS operations. Current plans (under development) are that USAXS/SAXS/WAXS will move to 20ID-B station in September 2022 - and at that time it will also be upgraded to new hardware and new geometry. It will be commissioned at 20ID-B in the Fall of 2023 and available to user community there until APS shutdown. Instrument will move to 12ID-C during APS shutdown and will be available to user community from late 2024 there. This plan may change. User community will be informed by USAXS newsletter as information becomes available. You can always ask staff for current plans via e-mail

    Typical parameters are below:

    Standard USAXS configuration (Si 220 crystals, slit smeared) - default

    • Energy range ............    12 - 24 keV, typical 21keV
    • Q range combined ....    8*10-5 to 6 [A-1]
    • Q resolution USAXS ..   8*10-5 [A-1] in the USAXS range (up to ~0.1 [A-1])
    • Size range comb........    6 micron - 1 Angstrom
    • Collection time comb..    2 - 5 minutes
    • Intensity range ...........   up to 12 decades (depends on sample), desmeared 
    • SAXS Q range ...........  ~ 0.03 to 1.3 [A-1]
    • WAXS Q range ..........  ~ 0.8   to  6 [A-1]

    High resolution USAXS configuration (Si 440 crystals, slit smeared) special & justified request only

    • Energy .......................   12 - 18 keV, 18keV typical
    • Q range combined ....    3*10-5 to 6 [A-1]
    • Q resolution USAXS...   3*10-5 [A-1] in the USAXS range (up to ~0.1 [A-1])
    • Size range comb........    20 micron - 1 Angstrom
    • Collection time comb..    4 - 6 minutes
    • Intensity range ...........    up to 12 decades (depends on sample), desmeared
    • SAXS Q range ...........   ~ 0.03 to 1.3 [A-1]
    • WAXS Q range ..........   ~ 0.8   to  6 [A-1]

    2D collimated USAXS (Si 220 crystals) - not available until after APS upgrade (~2025)

    • Energy ....................  12 - 21 keV
    • Q range ..................   8*10-5 [A-1] to 0.1 [A-1
    • Collection time ........  4 - 6 minutes
    • Intensity range ........  up to 8 decades (depends on sample)
    • Q resolution ............  3*10-5 [A-1] in the USAXS range (up to ~0.1 [A-1])
    • SAXS ....................... not available
    • WAXS ...................... not available

    USAXS Imaging - not available until after APS upgrade (~2025)

    Graph of results and schematics:

    1D Usaxs

    Schematics of USAXS instrument. For illustration only, NOT for publications. For latest updated drawing please contact beamline scientist.

    Usaxs Saxs Waxs

    Schematics of the USAXS - SAXS - WAXS instrument with all three geometries. Data are collected sequentially using the three devices. Change over time between detectors is about 30 seconds.

    E15 Movie

    An in-situ USAXS-SAXS-WAXS study of precipitate dissolution and size evolution in a model gamma-gammaPrime ternary Ni-based alloy (collaboration with Dr. G. Muralidharan, ORNL). A 0.1 mm thick sample was heated from RT to 1100C at 4.5C/min while undergoing repeated USAXS-SAXS-WAXS (24 keV) at 5 minute intervals. Research sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Office of Vehicle Technologies, as part of the Propulsion Materials Program.

    Annealing Al Alloy

    USAXS/SAXS/WAXS data : In situ data collected at 226 °C over about 16 hours represent microstructure evolution of AA2024 aluminum alloy (Allen, Levine, and Zhang, NIST). USAXS data enable quantification of second phase formation (size and volume), WAXS enables phase identification.

    Sio2 Scattering

    Scattering of 1 micron SiO2 spheres in aqueous solution.

    Annealing High Exposives

    USAXS/SAXS/WAXS in situ data : Data collected by LLNL (Trevor Willey et.al.) on high-explosives. The material is composite of two high-explosives and plastic binder. The WAXS clearly shows phase changes while USAXS/pinSAXS data show microstructure change as function of heating.

    1.0um Usaxs

    Scattering of 1 micron Polystyrene spheres in solution.