A step toward standardization: development of accurate measurements of X-ray absorption and fluorescence Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper explains how to take the counting precision available for XAFS (X-ray absorption fine structure) and attenuation measurements, of perhaps one part in 10(6) in special cases, to produce a local variance below 0.01% and an accuracy of attenuation of the order 0.01%, with an XAFS accuracy at a similar level leading to the determination of dynamical bond lengths to an accuracy similar to that obtained by standard and experienced crystallographic measurements. This includes the necessary corrections for the detector response to be linear, including a correction for dark current and air-path energy dependencies; a proper interpretation of the range of sample thicknesses for absorption experiments; developments of methods to measure and correct for harmonic contamination, especially at lower energies without mirrors; the significance of correcting for the actual bandwidth of the beam on target after monochromation, especially for the portability of results and edge structure from one beamline to another; definitions of precision, accuracy and XAFS accuracy suitable for theoretical model analysis; the role of additional and alternative high-accuracy procedures; and discusses some principles regarding data formats for XAFS and for the deposition of data sets with manuscripts or to a database. Increasingly, the insight of X-ray absorption and the standard of accuracy needed requires data with high intrinsic precision and therefore with allowance for a range of small but significant systematic effects. This is always crucial for absolute measurements of absorption, and is of equal importance but traditionally difficult for (usually relative) measurements of fluorescence XAFS or even absorption XAFS. Robust error analysis is crucial so that the significance of conclusions can be tested within the uncertainties of the measurements. Errors should not just include precision uncertainty but should attempt to include estimation of the most significant systematic error contributions to the results. This is essential if the results are to be subject to deposition in a central accessible reference database; it is also crucial for specifying a standard data format for portability and ease of use by depositors and users. In particular this will allow development of theoretical formulations to better serve the world-wide XAFS community, and a higher and more easily comparable standard of manuscripts.


  • Chantler, Christopher T
  • Barnea, Zwi
  • Tran, Chanh Q
  • Rae, Nicholas A
  • de Jonge, Martin D

publication date

  • November 1, 2012