Five years ago laboratory-based XAFS using conventional x-ray tubes for materials characterization was a dead field. A few legacy instruments based on 1970’s technology were still operating, but there had been no interest in its further development due to the growth of synchrotron-based XAFS access in the 1980’s. By the end of 2018, there will be about 15 modern laboratory XAFS and XES systems worldwide for tender and hard x-rays, with that number expected to double in 2019. In a few years, the number of benchtop hard x-ray lab XAFS systems will likely approach the number of hard x-ray XAFS synchrotron beamlines. Yet, we argue here, the two access modes will have relatively disjoint, complementary applications. Laboratory and synchrotron XAFS facilities are not competing.
In this talk, I’ll describe my group’s work that has helped lead to the ongoing renaissance of lab-based XAFS and XES using only conventional x-ray tubes. After summarizing the technology, I’ll emphasize the many applications that share a common characteristic: progress requires iterated rapid (often daily) feedback in exactly the common meaning of the term “routine analytical chemistry”. Such problems are technically feasible at synchrotron light sources, but are usually a poor fit with both the facility mission and also its access model. Examples will span from undergraduate education, to phosphorus XES of quantum dots, to in situ studies of pouch cells batteries using 3d transition metals, to the analysis of hexavalent Cr faction in plastics and nuclear storage, to oxidation state analysis of uranium.