The method of in situ time-resolved high-energy X-ray diffraction, using the intrinsically highly collimated X-ray beam generated by the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, is demonstrated. A specially designed cell, which allows the addition of liquid components, has been used to study the reaction mechanisms of a foamed bioactive calcia-silica sol-gel glass immersed in simulated body fluid. Analysis of the X-ray diffraction data from this experiment provides atomic distances, via the pair correlation functions, at different stages of the dissolution of the glass and of the associated calcium phosphate, and ultimately hydroxyapatite, i.e. bone mineral, formation. Hence, changes in the atomic scale structure can be analysed as a function of reaction time, giving an insight into the evolution of the structure of both the glass matrix and the hydroxyapatite surface growth
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