McMaster University
McMaster Analytical X-Ray Diffraction Facility (MAX) Print E-mail

James F. Britten, Ph.D., Manager, Scientific Director 

Hilary Jenkins, Ph.D., Research Scientist, SCD Specialist

Victoria Jarvis, M.A.Sc., Research Engineer, XRD2 / XRD3 Specialist


The McMaster Analytical X-ray Diffraction Facility (MAX) is a service, research,

and teaching laboratory operated by the Department of Chemistry &

Chemical Biology and the Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research. We support

Science and Engineering research at McMaster University, as well as train students

in the theory and practice of X-ray diffraction (link to more information).

We also provide fee for service characterization of chemicals and materials  for

external clients from industry and from other universities. (Download single crystal

and materials sample submission forms.)

Note: The pricing structure for MAX services was adjusted for 2015.

How can we help you solve your characterization problem?

Single Crystal Diffraction (SCD)

Texture and Residual Stress Analyses (XRD3)

Rapid Phase Analyses (XRD2)

High Resolution Powder Diffraction (XRD)

Grazing Incidence Diffraction (GIXRD)



Phase transitions in Yeupeng Zhang's (MSE student) thin films, viewed in MAX3D .


Can you see the difference? Center spot from cubic, the rest from tetragonal split.

Note the diffuse streaks in between.

X-ray Crystallography is used to determine the structures of molecules and extended solid state lattices through the analysis of diffraction patterns from single crystals. It gives elemental analysis, bond lengths, bond angles, stereochemistry, intermolecular contacts, and even absolute configuration . . . in just a few hours! This molecule was synthesized by Michael Beer in the Chemistry Department's Valliant group.



X-ray Powder Diffraction is used to characterize polycrystalline powders and solids. Diffraction patterns are collected for sample identification, phase and polymorph analyses, texture and residual stress analyses, structure refinement, and ab initio structure solution.

The X-ray service laboratory has been set up jointly by the Department of Chemistry and McMaster's Brockhouse Institute for Materials Research (B.I.M.R.). to provide efficient, professional, single-crystal and powder X-ray analyses at a reasonable cost to users.


The laboratory has two single crystal diffractometers for X-ray analyses on many sample morphologies.


The Bruker Mo Smart APEX2 is used for inorganic and organometallic crystal structure determination as well as steel XRD2.


The Rigaku Cu rotating anode generator has parallel focusing mirrors, a three circle Bruker D8 diffractometer and a SMART6000 CCD detector. The Cu diffractometer is used for organic small molecule single crystal structure determination as well as 2D powder diffraction, fiber diffraction, texture or strain analyses on thin films or metal alloys.



Also located in the facility is a high resolution Bruker D8 Advance Powder diffractometer with a Ge monochromator. This instrument is capable of performing high resolution ab initio structure studies on solid state and molecular compounds. A Nicolet automated diffractometer is also available for use.



All of the single crystal diffractometers are equipped with low temperature attachments. The facility also offers a microscope and sample preparation room as well as an open office area for structure solution. The SHELXTL software package is distributed on PCs throughout the Department. The staff is involved in internal and external collaborations and welcome inquiries from interested parties.


Operating Policies

Policies and procedures for the operation of the laboratory are determined by discussion and agreement between the manager and the Chair of the Department of Chemistry. Major changes are brought before the Facilities Committee for approval. The Chair has the final word. The facility is financed by users fees to recover the costs of maintenance and supplies.

Processing Samples

Samples are accepted on a "first-come, first-served" basis and are assigned to the appropriate diffractometer. The names of the researchers (usually graduate students) are placed in a queue for each instrument. The users are encouraged to select and mount their own samples (0.02 - 0.50 mm crystals), and frequent users are trained to use the diffractometers. All operations are monitored by the manager.



Graduate Courses

A six week introductory crystallography theory graduate course (CHEM 730) covering symmetry, diffraction, structure factors, structure solution, etc. is offered every second year. There is also a six week practical chemical crystallography course (CHEM 736) offered every second year which examines sample preparation and mounting, data collection, structure solution, structure refinement, and CIF's generation for organic, organometallic, inorganic, or solid state samples. The department of Materials Science and Engineering offers a biennial six week course (MATLS 730) on the use of XRD2 and XRD3 techniques for phase analysis, texture analysis, residual stress measurement, etc.





X-ray Diffraction for Nanomaterials (MATLS 4GO3)

3D Diffraction for Materials Characterization (from FXMA seminar at Albany Nanotech)


Cambridge Structural Database System Documentation (McMaster access only)

PC-PDF Notes (McMaster access only)

Shelxl-93 Manual

3LA3 Single Crystal notes

3LA3 XRD2/XRD3 notes

Back to Services page



International Union of Crystallography

Contact Information

Office: ABB-B154, x23481 Laboratory: ABB-B101, x23107
Mailing Address:
Dr James F. Britten
Department of Chemistry
McMaster University
Hamilton, Ont., Canada
L8S 4M1
Voice (905) 5... , x23481, x23107
FAX (905) 522-2509
Jim Britten: or