The synthesis of new materials, and the discovery of new phenomena in those materials, forms a foundation for innovations in a multitude of health, technology and industrial applications.

X-rays are routinely used by teams of scientists and engineers to characterize new materials and new phenomena, ranging from the softest materials, like biological thin films and organic electronics, to the hardest known materials like novel carbon nanotubes now able to damage diamond-anvil cells. The link between material behavior (mechanical, magnetic, electrical, etc.) and crystallographic structure must be understood in order to design new materials with desired properties most effectively.

More effective design and prediction of new crystal structures may be achieved by the analysis of existing structures. By identifying relevant crystallographic factors, the development of future materials is advanced. High-resolution x-ray diffraction (XRD) is applied to see features as small as hundredths of a nanometer. Grazing-incidence small-angle x-ray scattering (GISAXS) can look at surface ordering on feature sizes as large as 200 nanometers. A variety of detectors are used routinely, including high-count-rate solid-state detectors, phosphor-coupled large area CCD detectors and fast, low-noise pixel array detectors. CHESS provides a world-class facility and staff to foster the study of materials.