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Jan Ilavsky


Beamline scientist of the USAXS/SAXS/WAXS instrument at APS, author of software packages Irena and Nika.


Scientific interests & expertise

  • Small-angle scattering (SAS) - both X-ray and neutron - for the purpose of materials science.
  • Author of packages for analysis (Irena) and data reduction (Nika) of SAS data.
  • USAXS/SAXS/WAXS instrument development. 
  • Applied materials for advanced technologies. 


I got my MS degree from the oldest university in central Europe - from Charles University, Prague. I joined Institute of Plasma Physics where I developed interest in the thermal spraying and in the thermally sprayed deposits. After Velvet Revolution” in the Czech republic, in 1991, I came to the USA to study for PhD at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, SUNY at Stony Brook, New York, USA. I have studied in Thermal Spray Laboratory under the guidance of prof. Christopher C. Berndt and prof. Herbert Herman; defending my PhD thesis in 1994.
After 1994 I spent two years as post-doc at Materials Characterization Group at Ceramic division of NIST, working with dr. Gabrielle Long, dr. Andrew J. Allen and many other outstanding scientists at NIST on the use of small angle neutron scattering (SANS) for characterization of thermally sprayed deposits. Next stop of my life were two years back at the Institute of Plasma Physics, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague. I continued to broaden my field of interests here into various methods for materials characterization.
From 1999 I am at the Advanced Photon Source, ANL, Chicago, IL, working as beamline scientist of the Ultra-Small-Angle X-ray Scattering Instrument (USAXS). I was first employed by University of Maryland at College Park, MD, USA, followed by Purdue University, Purdue, IN. From July 2004 I am employee of Argonne National Laboratory, member of X-Ray Science Division (XSD),  Advanced Photon Source.

Current position

I am currently the main instrument scientist of the world-wide best instrument for small-angle scattering, APS USAXS/SAXS/WAXS instrument, located at beamline 9ID. Me and my colleagues work with scientists from all fields on application of small-angle scattering techniques for their specific problems. From metals, polymers, ceramics, to food products, high explosives, nuclear materials,… we do it all. Ultra-Small-Angle, Small-Angle, and Wide-Angle (aka: powder diffraction) scattering are uniquelly applicable techniques and we do it all.
I am also author of small-angle scattering analysis package Irena as well as software package for area detector data reduction Nika. For more details see the linked site as well as YouTube channel with instructions and explanations.
In summary, at our USAXS/SAXS/WAXS instrument we provide unique one stop shop” - we have instrument with of the largest scattering vector and intensity ranges in the world, supported by experience of 20+ years and software tools for data analysis, suitable for most materials science.


I am author of over 250 publications (9/2018) with over 7000 citations and H-index of 39 (Google scholar, 9/2018).


IUCr SAS commission US representative, various scientific societies,