X-ray reflectometry (XRR) is an analytical technique for investigating thin layered structures, surfaces and interfaces using the effect of total external reflection of X-rays. Reflectometry is used to characterize single and multi-layer structures and coatings in magnetic, semiconducting and optical materials, among others.


In reflectivity experiments, the X-ray reflection of a sample is measured around the critical angle. This occurs around grazing incidence angles. Below the critical angle of total external reflection, X-rays penetrate only a few nanometers into the sample. Above this angle the penetration depth increases rapidly. At every interface where the electron density changes, a part of the X-ray beam is reflected. The interference of these partially reflected X-ray beams creates the oscillation pattern observed in reflectivity experiments. From these reflectivity curves, layer parameters such as thickness and density, interface and surface roughness can be determined, regardless of the crystallinity of each layer (single crystal, polycrystalline or amorphous).

X-ray reflectometry solutions

Reflectometry experiments can be performed on Malvern Panalytical's X'Pert³ MRD (XL) or Empyrean systems

Reflectometry data can be analyzed with a choice of automatic fitting procedures implemented in the Reflectivity software package. Part of Malvern Panalytical's XRD software range, Reflectivity uses the XRDML data format. By allowing automatic fitting of simulated to experimental specular X-ray reflectivity curves, Reflectivity makes reflectometry, formerly the preserve of highly professional users, available to routine users.


X'Pert³ MRD

X'Pert³ MRD XL

Empyrean X'Pert³ MRD X'Pert³ MRD XL

The intelligent diffractometer

Versatile research & development XRD system

Versatile research, development & quality control XRD system

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X-ray Diffraction (XRD)
Measurement type
Crystal structure determination
Phase identification
Phase quantification
Contaminant detection and analysis
Residual stress
Epitaxy analysis
Interface roughness
Texture analysis
3D structure / imaging
Reciprocal space analysis
Thin film metrology
Surface area
Pore size distribution
C-to-C wafer loader No Yes
Detector PIXcel1D, PIXcel3D, Proportional counter, Scintilation detector
Goniometer configuration Vertical goniometer, Θ-Θ Horizontal goniometer, Θ-2Θ Horizontal goniometer, Θ-2Θ
Minimum step size 0.0001º 0.0001º
Particle size range 1 - 100 nm
Wafer mapping 100 mm 200 mm
X-ray tube anode material Cu, Co,Cr, Mn, Fe, Mo