Gas electron diffraction
Gas electron diffraction (GED) is one of the applications of electron diffraction
Electron diffraction
Electron diffraction refers to the wave nature of electrons. However, from a technical or practical point of view, it may be regarded as a technique used to study matter by firing electrons at a sample and observing the resulting interference pattern...

 techniques. The target of this method is the determination of the structure of gaseous molecules i.e. the geometrical arrangement of the atoms from which a molecule is built up.

Diffraction occurs because the wavelength
In physics, the wavelength of a sinusoidal wave is the spatial period of the wave—the distance over which the wave's shape repeats.It is usually determined by considering the distance between consecutive corresponding points of the same phase, such as crests, troughs, or zero crossings, and is a...

 of electrons accelerated by a potential of a few thousand volts is of the same order of magnitude as internuclear distances in molecules. The principle is the same as that of other electron diffraction methods such as LEED and RHEED
Reflection high-energy electron diffraction is a technique used to characterize the surface of crystalline materials. RHEED systems gather information only from the surface layer of the sample, which distinguishes RHEED from other materials characterization methods that also rely on diffraction of...

, but the obtainable diffraction pattern is considerably weaker than those of LEED and RHEED because the density of the target is about one thousand times smaller. Since the orientation of the target molecules relative to the electron beams is random, the internuclear distance information obtained is one-dimensional. Thus only relatively simple molecules can be completely structurally characterized by electron diffraction in the gas phase. It is possible to combine information obtained from other sources, such as rotational spectra
Rotational spectroscopy
Rotational spectroscopy or microwave spectroscopy studies the absorption and emission of electromagnetic radiation by molecules associated with a corresponding change in the rotational quantum number of the molecule...

, NMR spectroscopy or high-quality quantum-mechanical calculations with electron diffraction data, if the latter are not sufficient to determine the molecule's structure completely.

The total scattering intensity in GED is given as a function
Function (mathematics)
In mathematics, a function associates one quantity, the argument of the function, also known as the input, with another quantity, the value of the function, also known as the output. A function assigns exactly one output to each input. The argument and the value may be real numbers, but they can...

 of the momentum
In classical mechanics, linear momentum or translational momentum is the product of the mass and velocity of an object...

 transfer, which is defined as the difference between the wave vector
Wave vector
In physics, a wave vector is a vector which helps describe a wave. Like any vector, it has a magnitude and direction, both of which are important: Its magnitude is either the wavenumber or angular wavenumber of the wave , and its direction is ordinarily the direction of wave propagation In...

 of the incident electron
The electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. It has no known components or substructure; in other words, it is generally thought to be an elementary particle. An electron has a mass that is approximately 1/1836 that of the proton...

 beam and that of the scattered electron beam and has the reciprocal dimension of length
In geometric measurements, length most commonly refers to the longest dimension of an object.In certain contexts, the term "length" is reserved for a certain dimension of an object along which the length is measured. For example it is possible to cut a length of a wire which is shorter than wire...

. The total scattering intensity is composed of two parts: the atomic scattering intensity and the molecular scattering intensity. The former decreases monotonically and contains no information about the molecular structure. The latter has sinusoidal modulations as a result of the interference of the scattering spherical waves generated by the scattering from the atoms included in the target molecule. The interferences reflect the distributions of the atoms composing the molecules, so the molecular structure is determined from this part.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.