Over the last 20 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 (IXS) proposed that a Commission on XAFS be established within the IUCr. The creation of this Commission was approved at the IUCr Congress in Seattle (August 1996). The Chair of the XAFS Commission is E. A. Stern.
One of the principal goals of the Commission on XAFS is to promote stronger links between the IUCr and the IXS. The IXS is a relatively new organization that represents all scientists that utilize the fine structure associated with inner-shell excitation (near edge and extended) by various probes (e.g. X-rays and electrons), including those who utilize 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 currently has over 600 members. 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.
Since its creation, the principal activity of the Commission on XAFS has been to develop educational materials aimed at improving the practices of XAFS. The most visible of these is the IXS home page (special thanks are due to Professors B. Bunker and G. Bunker, and the Center for Synchrotron Radiation Research and Instrumentation for development of these pages). The IXS home page serves as a clearing house 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 Commission is also working (in cooperation with the IXS Education Committee) to develop course notes that can be used for XAFS training workshops and with the IXS Standards and Criteria Committee to formalize procedures and tests for data collection and analysis and for the reporting of errors. Finally, the Commission is working with the IXS in planning for the Tenth International Conference on XAFS to be held in Chicago, 10-14 August 1998.
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