The understanding of the relationship between structure and properties of materials is achieved using different analytical methods. We use the X-ray diffraction for questions such as the determination of the crystallinity of a material, the assignment to an already known structure as well as its quantitative analysis or the structure determination of a new phase. Even a small amount of sample (about 10 μg, depending on the material) can be analyzed. The investigation of nanomaterials (1-100 nm) using X-ray small angle scattering is one of our competences. The precise indication of the size and shape of the nanoparticles in solution or in a solid is important for the properties of a material containing nanomaterials and thus defines the fields of application of such materials. In addition to the use of laboratory equipment, a time-resolved analysis of complex issues, such as the damage processes of cementitious building materials, accessible by synchrotron radiation is used as a radiation source. Here we gain information about the structural composition and can directly relate it to the properties of the building material.

In materialography, computed tomography allows three-dimensional imaging of the microstructure of materials with sub-micron resolution. This allows to separately detect the components of fiber composites or alloys, to visualize the behavior under stress and to detect the smallest material defects. Even higher resolutions in the nanometer range can be achieved by other materialographic imaging methods such as electron or atomic force microscopy, which can even image down to individual atoms or molecules. Simultaneously, physical and chemical properties are accessible by imaging. By the combination of X-ray analytical and imaging techniques, e.g. using synchrotron absorption edge tomography, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy in the electron microscope or atomic-force microscopic IR spectroscopy, even the chemical composition of the materials can be spatially resolved. In this way, BAM supports the development of modern, robust materials and production methods such as the 3D printing of metallic and ceramic materials or polymer-based nanocomposites.