Dynamic structure factor

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In condensed matter physics, the dynamic structure factor (or dynamical structure factor) is a mathematical function that contains information about inter-particle correlations and their time evolution. It is a generalization of the structure factor that considers correlations in both space and time. Experimentally, it can be accessed most directly by inelastic neutron scattering or X-ray Raman scattering.

The dynamic structure factor is most often denoted , where (sometimes ) is a wave vector (or wave number for isotropic materials), and a frequency (sometimes stated as energy, ). It is defined as:[1]

Here , is called the intermediate scattering function and can be measured by neutron spin echo spectroscopy. The intermediate scattering function is the spatial Fourier transform of the van Hove function :[2][3]

Thus we see that the dynamical structure factor is the spatial and temporal Fourier transform of van Hove's time-dependent pair correlation function. It can be shown (see below), that the intermediate scattering function is the correlation function of the Fourier components of the density :

The dynamic structure is exactly what is probed in coherent inelastic neutron scattering. The differential cross section is :

where is the scattering length.

The van Hove function[edit]

The van Hove function for a spatially uniform system containing point particles is defined as:[1]

It can be rewritten as:

In an isotropic sample G(r,t) depends only on the distance r and is the time dependent radial distribution function.


  1. ^ a b Hansen, J. P.; McDonald, I. R. (1986). Theory of Simple Liquids. Academic Press.
  2. ^ van Hove, L. (1954). "Correlations in Space and Time and Born Approximation Scattering in Systems of Interacting Particles". Physical Review. 95 (1): 249. Bibcode:1954PhRv...95..249V. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.95.249.
  3. ^ Vineyard, George H. (1958). "Scattering of Slow Neutrons by a Liquid". Physical Review. 110 (5): 999–1010. doi:10.1103/PhysRev.110.999. ISSN 0031-899X.

Further reading[edit]