The Scattering Laboratory


“If you want to understand function, study structure.”

Francis Crick on deciphering the helical structure of the DNA molecule


Within the scattering laboratory, we develop X-ray analytical and imaging ideas for understanding materials structure in health and materials science.

Small and Wide-angle X-ray scattering is a crucial technique for understanding nanoscale organic or inorganic systems and their interactions. The state-of-the-art expertise, advanced instrumentation and theoretical analysis within the Center for X-ray Analytics support scientists and shed new light on the comprehension of amorphous, liquid, polymeric and composite systems ranging from 1 to 100 nm in size. A particular focus is put on linking "structure" to "function", a fundamental concept at the core of nano-to-biological interaction.

In the SAXS laboratory, we investigate a broad range of materials and benefit from collaboration from Empa and outside. It includes the size, shape, surface characteristics and interactions of particles, proteins, polymers, pharmaceuticals and self-assemblies in solution and an understanding of internal morphology in powders and mesoporous materials. The micro-focused beam combined with a 2D detector and the wide variety of sample environments enables us to explore the complex anisotropy of polymeric composite nano-materials and the interaction of nanoparticles and biological environments with in situ microfluidics.


Image (left): Company Antona Paar

The SAXS laboratory is part of the Center for X-ray Analytics located at Empa St Gallen. The laboratory concentrates on developing and applying small-angle diffraction and scattering methods. The lab is equipped with polyvalent instruments for the different application domains: