Diffuse scattering from large-angle, thermally induced, orientational disorder in molecular crystals

John Reid, Moreton Moore, Lucy Emma MacNay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


Large-angle rotational motion (libration) characteristic of molecular solids has not been properly included in many scattering calculations because of the need to develop scattering theory through small-angle approximations. A simple but effective approach to calculating the influence of large-angle librations on the thermal disorder scattering given by molecular solids is to treat the molecules as independent librators, each in a harmonic potential well, using the mathematics appropriate for large-angle rotations. The resulting probability distribution for angular misorientations is Gaussian and this distribution can be used to smear the molecular form factor, enabling the librational influence on the scattering to be calculated. It is shown how to apply this direct approach quite generally and by way of examples the technique is used with the molecular solids sulfur hexafluoride (SF6), adamantane (C10H16) and buckminsterfullerene (C-60). For these materials, the molecular Fourier transform (i.e. the molecular form factor) have been calculated in selected planes in reciprocal space, followed by the separate effects of librational and translational smearing. It is found that the librational smearing produces a large effect on the form factor, particularly at larger scattering vectors, that is not sensitive to approximations in the argument. Additionally, the Debye-Waller effect of vibrational motion is included in the calculations, showing quantitatively the decreasing influence of vibrations on the scattering with increasing scattering vector. Both effects illustrate with pedagogic clarity how different processes modify the basic molecular scattering.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)380-386
Number of pages7
JournalActa Crystallographica. Section A, Foundations of Crystallography
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2007


  • adamantane
  • order
  • diffraction
  • transition
  • phase
  • C-60


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