# Ewald's sphere

# Ewald's sphere

The **Ewald sphere** is a geometric construction used in electron, neutron, and X-ray crystallography which demonstrates the relationship between:

- thewavevectorof the incident and diffracted x-ray beams,
- thediffraction anglefor a given reflection,
- thereciprocal latticeof thecrystal

It was conceived by Paul Peter Ewald, a German physicist and crystallographer.^{[1]} Ewald himself spoke of the **sphere of reflection**.^{[2]}

Ewald's sphere can be used to find the maximum resolution available for a given x-ray wavelength and the unit cell dimensions. It is often simplified to the two-dimensional "Ewald's circle" model or may be referred to as the Ewald sphere.

Ewald construction

`Acrystalcan be described as alatticeof points of equal symmetry. The requirement forconstructive interferencein a diffraction experiment means that in momentum orreciprocal spacethe values of momentum transfer where constructive interference occurs also form a lattice (thereciprocal lattice). For example, the reciprocal lattice of asimple cubicreal-space lattice is also a simple cubic structure. Another example, the reciprocal lattice of an FCC crystal real-space lattice is a BCC structure, and vice versa. The aim of the Ewald sphere is to determine which lattice planes (represented by the grid points on the reciprocal lattice) will result in a diffracted signal for a given wavelength,, of incident radiation.`

`The incident plane wave falling on the crystal has a wave vector **** whose length is. The diffracted plane wave has a wave vector ****. If no energy is gained or lost in the diffraction process (it is elastic) then **** has the same length as ****. The difference between the wave-vectors of diffracted and incident wave is defined as scattering vector ****. Since **** and **** have the same length the scattering vector must lie on the surface of a sphere of radius. This sphere is called the Ewald sphere.`

`The reciprocal lattice points are the values of momentum transfer where theBragg diffraction conditionis satisfied and for diffraction to occur the scattering vector must be equal to a reciprocal lattice vector. Geometrically this means that if the origin of reciprocal space is placed at the tip of **** then diffraction will occur only for reciprocal lattice points that lie on the surface of the Ewald sphere.`

Applications

Small scattering-angle limit

When the wavelength of the radiation to be scattered is much smaller than the spacing between atoms, the Ewald sphere radius becomes large compared to the spatial frequency of atomic planes. This is common, for example, in transmission electron microscopy. In this approximation, diffraction patterns in effect illuminate planar slices through the origin of a crystal's reciprocal lattice. However, it is important to note that while the Ewald sphere may be quite flat, a diffraction pattern taken perfectly aligned down a zone axis (high-symmetry direction) contains precisely zero spots that exactly satisfy the Bragg condition. As one tilts a single crystal with respect to the incident beam, diffraction spots wink on and off as the Ewald sphere cuts through one zero order Laue zone (ZOLZ) after another.

See also

Kikuchi line (solid state physics)

## References

*Annalen der Physik*.

**369**(3): 253–287. Bibcode:1921AnP...369..253E. doi:10.1002/andp.19213690304.

*Acta Crystallographica Section A*.

**25**(1): 103–108. Bibcode:1969AcCrA..25..103E. doi:10.1107/S0567739469000155.