X-ray diffraction by a crystal in a permanent external electric field: General considerations

Semen V. Gorfman, Vladimir G. Tsirelson, Ullrich Pietsch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The variations of X-ray diffraction intensities from a crystal in the presence of a permanent external electric field is modeled analytically using a first-order stationary perturbation theory. The change in a crystal, induced by an external electric field, is separated into two contributions. The first one is related to a pure polarization of an electron subsystem, while the second contribution can be reduced to the displacements of the rigid pseudoatoms from their equilibrium positions. It is shown that a change of the X-ray diffraction intensities mainly originates from the second contribution, while the influence of the pure polarization of a crystal electron subsystem is negligibly small. The quantities restored from an X-ray diffraction experiment in the presence of an external electric field were analyzed in detail in terms of a rigid pseudoatomic model of electron density and harmonic approximation for the atomic thermal motion. Explicit relationships are derived that link the properties of phonon spectra with E-field-induced variations of a structure factor, pseudoatomic displacements and piezoelectric strains. The displacements can be numerically estimated using a model of independent atomic motion if the Debye-Waller factors and pseudoatomic charges are known either from a previous single-crystal X-ray diffraction study or from density functional theory calculations. The above estimations can be used to develop an optimum strategy for a data collection that avoids the measurements of reflections insensitive to the electric-field-induced variations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)387-396
Number of pages10
JournalActa Crystallographica Section A: Foundations of Crystallography
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


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