SAXS is a non-destructive method for investigating nanostructures in liquids and solids. In a SAXS experiment the X-ray beam hits a nanostructured sample, for example proteins, macromolecules, or nanoparticle dispersions.
The properties of a material in general are related to the structure and arrangement of domains on the nanoscale. To understand the relation between the size, shape, and arrangement of nanostructures and their macroscopic behavior it is necessary to accurately analyze these structures. There are several classical structural methods (many of them imaging methods), such as microscopy (AFM, TEM), which are used for characterizing nanostructured materials. These methods, however, have the disadvantage that averaged, i.e. representative results of a sample can hardly be obtained. Small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) ideally complements microscopic methods since it provides representative structural information about a large sample area.