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Research Highlight | Materials Science Division

High-speed X-ray photon correlation spectroscopy: probing phase splitting in chemical separations

In a study published in Physical Review Letters, researchers used X-rays to discover microsecond dynamics in fluids.

Scientific Achievement

High-speed X-ray Photon Correlation Spectroscopy (XPCS) reveals nanoscale dynamics in complex organic fluids used in liquid-liquid extraction (LLE) for chemical separation. 

Significance and Impact

Use of coherent X-rays rather than visible light allows observation of dynamics on the smaller length scales relevant to fluctuations in fluids. This first XPCS study of an LLE system provides a new universal framework for understanding their dynamics and potential relevance to separations efficacy.

Research Details

  • Using a new fast X-ray camera, a high-speed XPCS technique and efficient analysis methodology were developed to enable observation of microsecond dynamics in fluids.
  • The coupled dynamics of ions and mesoscale structure in LLE systems is well described by fundamental scaling concepts of critical phenomena.

Work was performed at Argonne National Laboratory.


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About the Advanced Photon Source

The U. S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne National Laboratory is one of the world’s most productive X-ray light source facilities. The APS provides high-brightness X-ray beams to a diverse community of researchers in materials science, chemistry, condensed matter physics, the life and environmental sciences, and applied research. These X-rays are ideally suited for explorations of materials and biological structures; elemental distribution; chemical, magnetic, electronic states; and a wide range of technologically important engineering systems from batteries to fuel injector sprays, all of which are the foundations of our nation’s economic, technological, and physical well-being. Each year, more than 5,000 researchers use the APS to produce over 2,000 publications detailing impactful discoveries, and solve more vital biological protein structures than users of any other X-ray light source research facility. APS scientists and engineers innovate technology that is at the heart of advancing accelerator and light-source operations. This includes the insertion devices that produce extreme-brightness X-rays prized by researchers, lenses that focus the X-rays down to a few nanometers, instrumentation that maximizes the way the X-rays interact with samples being studied, and software that gathers and manages the massive quantity of data resulting from discovery research at the APS.

This research used resources of the Advanced Photon Source, a U.S. DOE Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.