Pharmaceutical materials can be amorphous, crystalline, mesophases (intermediate states between crystalline and amorphous), or complex mixtures. X-ray powder diffraction (XRPD) is a pivotal technique for distinguishing these forms. An amorphous material, lacking long-range order, will display a diffuse X-ray diffraction pattern. In contrast, a crystalline solid’s ordered structure results in a distinct diffraction pattern, characterized by sharp peaks at specific diffraction angles. XRPD serves as a key method for identifying the crystalline forms of an active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), such as polymorphs, solvates, hydrates, salts, and cocrystals, with each form offering a unique “fingerprint” (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Comparison of XRPD patterns for two different crystalline forms and an amorphous form.

XRPD is instrumental in characterizing pharmaceutical materials for:

  1. Discriminating between crystalline and amorphous materials.
  2. Evaluating the degree of crystallinity and its impact on drug performance.
  3. Differentiating various crystal forms of a compound.
  4. Confirming sample uniformity in crystal form.
  5. Investigating phase transformations like dehydration, hydration, polymorph conversion, and crystallization from amorphous states.
  6. Quantifying the proportions of different forms within a sample.
  7. Determining crystal structures directly from powder samples.
  8. Analyzing amorphous materials through PDF (pair distribution function) analysis.

Improved Pharma’s XRPD Instrumentation: We proudly feature the Malvern PANalytical Empyrean Multi-Purpose X-ray Diffractometer, a top-of-the-line diffractometer equipped with the latest technology for comprehensive XRPD studies. Its advanced detectors and precision goniometer enable the measurement of diffraction patterns with exceptional accuracy and resolution, ensuring reliable and reproducible results.

At Improved Pharma, we’re committed to advancing the field of pharmaceutical research. Our XRPD capabilities are just one aspect of our comprehensive suite of analytical testing services. Explore our website to learn more about how our expert team can support your next project.

Figure 2. Improved Pharma’s diffractometer