Zanotto Crystallization of glass image
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July 30, 31 and August 1 from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m, ET

Learn about the capabilities and limitations of X-ray diffraction for ceramics

Instructor:  Taylor Sparks, Associate Chair of the Materials Science and Engineering Department, University of Utah

Course description

X-ray diffraction has been a mainstay of ceramic characterization since its inception. Powder diffraction allows us to determine and refine the crystal structure of ceramics to determine things like lattice parameters, site occupancy, thermal displacement parameters, texturing, weight fraction of multi-phase mixtures, and much more.

In recent years, python-based GSAS-II has made this process easier than ever. At the same time, visualization packages like VESTA and Python's Matplotlib allow us to visualize the results of Rietveld refinement and display structures in intuitive and beautiful ways.

In this three-day, 4.5-hour workshop we will cover:

  • General introduction to the Rietveld method
  • Detailed Rietveld refinement tutorials on powder and polycrystalline materials using GSAS-II (pyGSAS)
  • Quantitative phase analysis tutorials and example
  • Quantitative analysis of amorphous content in multiphase mixtures
  • General overview of the VESTA software package including tutorials for bonding, planes/directions, multi-phase interfaces, simulated XRD patterns, charge density difference plots, and more
  • Tutorial of Python's Matplotlib library for effectively visualizing diffraction data

Who will benefit?

This course will benefit students, scientists, and engineers who seek to better understand how to use X-ray diffraction to characterize ceramics and who also seek to visualize diffraction data and outcomes using advanced software packages.

What you'll learn

Tools for Visualizing and Understanding the Structure of Crystalline Ceramics is designed to provide students with a better understanding of how to use X-ray diffraction to characterize ceramics and how to visualize diffraction data and outcomes using advanced software packages. No coding background is required as templates and python tutorials will be covered. By the end of the class participants will be expected to:

  • Understand the capabilities and limitations of X-ray diffraction for ceramics
  • Be able to carry out the Rietveld refinement process and identify common problems
  • Export refinement results to VESTA and python to create crystal structure images and diffraction plots to communicate structure refinement findings

The course is taught live online. The live format allows for questions and answers.

Need to miss a lecture?

All lectures will be recorded, so even if you cannot attend the live lectures, you can still take the course using the recordings. They will be posted after each live lecture and include the very same video and audio content and personalized instructor feedback.

All lessons have assignments designed to make the material presented as relevant to your individual needs as possible.

Customized training

Looking for training customized to your company? Do you want a course taught privately to your employees? Call Customer Service at 614-890-4700 for details, or contact Marcus Fish to learn about training benefits for our Corporate Partners.

For other questions about ACerS online courses, email

Instructor bio

Taylor Sparks, University of Utah

Taylor Sparks is a Professor at the Materials Science & Engineering Department at the University of Utah. He is also director of the Materials Characterization lab at the university and teaches classes on ceramics, materials science, characterization, and technology commercialization. His current research centers on the discovery, synthesis, characterization, and properties of new materials for energy applications.

Originally from Utah, Sparks previously worked at Ceramatec Inc. and is a pioneer in the emerging field of materials informatics whereby big data, data mining, and machine learning are leveraged to solve challenges in materials science.

Sparks holds a Ph.D. in applied physics from Harvard University, an M.S. in materials from the University of California, Santa Barbara. When he’s not in the lab, you can find him running his podcast Materialism or canyoneering with his four kids in southern Utah.

Recorded Product: Registration rates (per person)

ACerS member*$495
Non member$595

*Employees of ACerS Corporate Partners receive the discounted Individual Member rate.  Sapphire Corporate Partners receive an additional 20% discount; Diamond Corporate Partners receive an additional 30% discount.  Please contact Customer Service or 614-890-4700 to register employees at the discounted Corporate Partner rates.