J. Appl. Cryst. (1994). 27, 441-442
Pp. viii + 268. Weinheim: VCH
Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, 1993
Price DM 158. ISBN 0-89573-745-0
Books of this type, which bring together materials relating to a specialized technique, can be very helpful to new users of a method. The primary literature may be widely dispersed, with pertinent information appearing only as a minor section of a research paper. In many cases, a diligent search is required to find these references and a cursory electronic perusal may miss much information that is not mentioned in either the title or abstract of the primary reference. Matters are even more difficult when, as in the present case, the technique is used by several disciplines, such as solid-state physics, materials science and mineralogy, further dispersing the literature references. We should therefore expect to welcome this text, but I find it flawed in two important respects - content and editing.
In terms of content, much of the material presented is unnecessary in a work of this kind. Thus, the first chapter, nearly 28% of the book, is devoted to a Review of X-ray diffraction, which consists of sections entitled Introduction to X-ray diffraction, Symmetry, Theory of diffraction, Production of X-rays and their characteristics and Diffractometers and Cameras. Although many solid-state scientists lack a sound level of training in the formalism of crystallography, one may assume that this would not be the case for potential users of this specialized crystallographic method. Even if it were the case, it is not clear that books such as this should try to remedy that deficiency. Better that the authors should state the level of background knowledge that has been assumed and suggest a standard text to be used when that knowledge is absent. Much of the space taken up by their elementary presentation of basic principles could have been used to pursue the main objectives - the performance and interpretation of high-temperature experiments or, by its omission, have served to reduce the price of the book. A similar criticism may be offered of the discussion of instrumentation; more than half of the chapter is devoted to the description of standard single-crystal devices, such as diffractometers and oscillation and precession cameras, even though the main thrust of the later chapters describing experimental procedures treats mainly the powder method.
Lack of clear editorial oversight is evident in the unnecessary repetition of material as well as in poor cross-referencing between chapters. For example, the design of position-sensitive detectors is discussed, by different authors, in both Chapter 3 (pp. 111-128) and Chapter 4 (pp. 162-164), with considerable repetition. However, in Chapter 7, where the use of these detectors is discussed, the cross-references are exclusively to the same author's shorter Chapter 4 rather than to the more definitive Chapter 3.
Despite these faults, the last four chapters, or about half of the book, are enough to make it useful as a text for new practitioners of the art of high-temperature diffraction. These chapters describe the equipment and the analysis of the data in enough detail for a newcomer to be able to make a start. But even here a criticism must be offered. The chapter on thermal expansion omits the methods needed to analyze the behavior of non-cubic materials. The derivation of the strain ellipsoid of thermal expansion from the lattice constants at two different temperatures has been known since the early 1970's. This technique is presented in at least one reference that the present authors cite in another context, and should have been included here. One final word of warning: the preface is dated May 1992, so the book presumably went to the printers in mid-1992. It is quite disturbing, therefore, that literature coverage appears to stop in early 1990.
Larry W. Finger
Carnegie Institution of Washington
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