Improved orientation sampling for indexing diffraction patterns of polycrystalline materials

Peter Mahler Larsen, Søren Schmidt

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Orientation mapping is a widely used technique for revealing the microstructure of a polycrystalline sample. The crystalline orientation at each point in the sample is determined by analysis of the diffraction pattern, a process known as pattern indexing. A recent development in pattern indexing is the use of a brute‐force approach, whereby diffraction patterns are simulated for a large number of crystalline orientations and compared against the experimentally observed diffraction pattern in order to determine the most likely orientation. Whilst this method can robustly identify orientations in the presence of noise, it has very high computational requirements. In this article, the computational burden is reduced by developing a method for nearly optimal sampling of orientations. By using the quaternion representation of orientations, it is shown that the optimal sampling problem is equivalent to that of optimally distributing points on a four‐dimensional sphere. In doing so, the number of orientation samples needed to achieve a desired indexing accuracy is significantly reduced. Orientation sets at a range of sizes are generated in this way for all Laue groups and are made available online for easy use.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Crystallography
Issue number6
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Orientation sampling
  • Pattern indexing
  • Forward modelling
  • Quaternions
  • Spherical coverings

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