Rietveld Refinement, Rietveld Analysis, Rietveld Technique, Rietveld Calculation,
"Discovery consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought."
Albert von Szent-Györgyi (Nobel prize-winner in 1937)
Materials are essential
to our technological
society: semiconductors in the electronic industry, zeolites as catalysts in the petrochemical industry, ceramics in medicine and engineering, and, possibly in the future, high-temperature superconductors in electrical
In order to understand the properties of these materials and to improve them, the atomic structure has to be known. An effective way to do this is by means of diffraction techniques using neutrons from nuclear reactors and particle accelerators or X-rays from X-ray tubes and synchrotrons. The single crystal diffraction technique, using relatively large crystals of the material, gives a set of separate data from which the structure can be obtained.
However, most materials of technical interest cannot grow large crystals, so one has to resort to the powder diffraction technique using material in the form of very small crystallites. The drawback of this conventional powder method is that the diffraction peaks grossly overlap, thereby preventing proper determination of the structure. The "Rietveld Method" creates a virtual separation of these overlapping peaks, thereby allowing an accurate determination of the structure.
The method has been so successful that nowadays the structure of materials, in the form of powders, is routinely being determined, nearly as accurately as the results obtained by single crystal diffraction techniques. An even more widely used application of the method is in determining the components of chemical mixtures. This quantitative phase analysis is now routinely used in industries ranging from cement factories to the oil industry.
The success of the method can be gauged by the publication of more than a thousand scientific papers yearly using it:
Results of a search on Google Scholar with the search string: ("rietveld refinement" OR "rietveld analysis" OR "rietveld method" OR "rietveld technique" OR "rietveld calculation" OR "rietveld quantitative phase analysis" OR "rietveld program") for the Rietveld Method and the search string: (rietveld AND "quantitative phase analysis") for the Rietveld Quantitative Phase Analysis (RQPA).
Dr. Rietveld at the neutron powder diffractometer at the High Flux Reactor of the
Foundation ECN in Petten, The Netherlands. (1987)
Hugo M. Rietveld was born in The
Hague, The Netherlands, on 7 March 1932. After completing Grammar School he went to
Australia and studied physics at the University
of Western Australia in Perth.
In 1964 he obtained his Ph.D. degree in Physics with a thesis entitled "The Structure of p-Diphenylbenzene and Other Compounds", a single crystal neutron and X-ray diffraction study. This investigation was the first single crystal neutron diffraction study in Australia and was conducted at the nuclear reactor, HIFAR, in Sydney.
In 1964 he became a research officer at the Netherlands Energy Research Foundation ECN at Petten, The Netherlands, and was mainly involved in neutron powder diffraction studies of uranates and other ceramic compounds.
After a scientific and managerial career with ECN he retired in 1992.
Dr. Robert L. Snyder presents Dr. Rietveld with the Barrett Award on behalf of the Denver X-ray
Conference Organizing Committee in Denver, USA, 6 August 2003.
Mrs. Marie van Rossen, mayoress of
Alkmaar, presents the decoration of the royal honour
of Officer in the Order of Oranje-Nassau to Dr. Rietveld for his outstanding contribution
to the field of chemistry in Alkmaar, The Netherlands, 29 October 2004.
Prof. Paolo Scardi, Chairman of the International Committee of the European Powder Diffraction Conference,
presents Dr. Rietveld with the 2010 EPDIC Award for Distinguished Powder Diffractionists,
in Darmstadt, Germany, 27 August 2010.