IUCr 1999 Triennial Report - Commission on XAFS

The IUCr Commission on XAFS has existed for three years, since its approval at the Seattle Congress. Activities during this period have focused on education, aimed at improving the practice of XAFS, on operations of the International Conference on XAFS, and on building an effective interface with the International XAFS Society.


Over the last twenty years, X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (XAFS) has developed into an extremely useful technique for obtaining local structural information for non-crystalline systems, thus making it often the structural technique of choice when crystallography cannot be used. In recognition of this natural connection between XAFS and crystallography, the Executive Committee of the International XAFS Society proposed that a Commission on XAFS be established within the IUCr. The creation of this Commission was approved at the Seattle General Assembly.

One of the principal goals of the Commission is to promote stronger links between the IUCr and the International XAFS Society (IXS). The IXS is a relatively new organisation that represents all scientists that utilise the fine structure associated with inner shell excitation (near edge and extended) by various probes (e.g. X-rays and electrons), including those who utilise related techniques for which the data are interpreted on the same physical basis (more information about the IXS can be found at http://ixs.csrri.iit.edu/IXS/). It is hoped that the creation of a Commission on XAFS will promote closer interactions between the X-ray diffraction and the X-ray absorption communities.

Educational activities

Since its creation, the principal activity of the Commission has been the development of educational materials aimed at improving the practice of XAFS. The most visible of these is the IXS homepage (special thanks are due to B. Bunker, G. Bunker, and the Center for Synchrotron Radiation Research and Instrumentation for development of these pages). The IXS home page serves as a clearinghouse for communication within the XAFS community, including information about worldwide synchrotron sources and access to a variety of XAFS databases (archived spectra, publications, and software).

The web page committee has recently been updating and expanding the web page. It now has on-line XAFS Society registration and a community listing as well as many links to other synchrotron and related sites. A listing of all committees is on the site and work is underway to add all committee reports. The data listing provided by F. Lytle continues to receive attention from the community as well as a listing of analytical software and some preliminary descriptions of the features they contain. There are plans to expand other features of the site including a newsletter, and the abstracts from XAFS X and, hopefully, XAFS XI.

The Commission works (in cooperation with the IXS education committee) to develop course notes that can be used for XAFS training workshops. The IXS Education Committee is led by G. Bunker. It hopes to coordinate with schools and courses which teach XAFS around the world regarding the content of their curricula, develop standard educational materials, and, possibly, organise XAFS training courses at locations around the world which may not have the expertise or resources to run a course themselves.

Standards and criteria in XAFS

As part of its educational mission, the IXS has established a Standards and Criteria (S&C) Sub-committee. Prior to 1998, it consisted of three sub-groups: experimental, analytical, and error reporting. In 1998 a group of scientists in the area of X-ray magnetic circular dichroism asked to affiliate with the S&C committee. This idea was accepted and they are now actively working on a report dealing with standards for XMCD. Because their scope is broader than XAFS, the XMCD sub-group is working in a parallel and coordinated fashion with the main committee. It met in Seattle, USA, in July 1997 and again in Chicago, USA, just prior to XAFS X. An oral report and summary of recommendations for error reporting which are under consideration by the S&C committee was made to the meeting. A draft report of the activities for the past two years is circulating in the committee. It is hoped that a final version will be ready soon. When it is, it will be posted on the IXS web page. There is also a set of recommendations for error reporting under final consideration by the S&C committee. If approved by the S&C committee, they will be forwarded to the IXS Executive Committee for approval as official policy of the IXS. The mechanism for this is still being determined, but will involve time for input and suggestions from the community. After adoption by the IXS, the recommendations will be posted on the IXS web page. Although not directly involved in the S&C activities, the Commission maintains close links to this committee. It is hoped that the Commission can assist in the wide dissemination of the S&C recommendations through links to the IUCr, particularly the IUCr web page and perhaps publication in an IUCr journal.

Conferences and meetings

On 10—14 August 1998, the Tenth International Conference on XAFS was held on the Illinois Institute of Technology campus in Chicago, USA. Approximately 360 scientists from 23 countries attended the conference. The programme consisted of 467 abstracts for plenary talks, invited talks, contributed talks, and posters. The co-chairs for the conference were B. Bunker, S. Heald, and T. Morrison and the Programme Chair was J. Penner-Hahn. The first IXS award for career contributions to the field was presented to F. Lytle who gave a plenary talk on 'The EXAFS Family Tree: History of the Development of X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy'. In addition, awards were given for the best poster by a young scientist at each session. The winners were M. Duff, D. Cabaret and S. Rossano. The IUCr also sponsored poster prizes for the best posters in the areas of biology and instrumentation and methods. These winners were A. Templeton and M. Suzuki. The proceedings of XAFS X will be published in the Journal of Synchrotron Radiation.

At XAFS X, it was announced that XAFS XI, which had previously been awarded to Japan and was to be held in 2001, had agreed to change its dates to 27—31 July 2000. It will be held in Ako City near SPring-8 (the Japanese third-generation synchrotron source). The timing of the XAFS conferences was changed in 1998 from every 2 years to every 3 years in order to avoid periodic conflicts with IUCr meetings. The additional phase shift in meeting year (from 2001 to 2000) was made in order to avoid conflicts with a major VUV conference. The selection and time for XAFS XII was also made at this time. This meeting will be held in 2003 in Lund, Sweden, associated with MAXLab.

As part of the effort to increase the coupling of the XAFS community with the IUCr, a session on XAFS was organised by the Commission at the ACA meeting in St Louis, USA, in 1997. It is planned to continue to sponsor related sessions like this at other related meetings. It was hoped that a similar session could be organised at the IUCr meeting.

J. Penner-Hahn, Secretary

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Updated 6th June 1999