Elementary scattering theory

Elementary scattering theory: for x-ray and neutron users

Devinder Sivia 

Oxford, UK: OUP 2011 | 216pp | ?19.99 (PB) 

ISBN 9780199228683

Reviewed by Andrew Wills

Book cover - Elementary scattering theory: for x-ray and neutron users


It is rare for a book to have a natural position beside the classic works in a field. Instead, authors often attempt to write an opus that will supplant them, and in so doing gain a revered place on the shelves of researchers around the world. Devinder Sivia’s newest work, Elementary scattering theory, is refreshing because it does not seek to achieve this. 

With a focus on the scattering of x-rays and neutrons, the author has tried to construct an understanding of the basics of scattering theory with a view of the different types of science that it can enable. Such a crossdisciplinary approach will hopefully encourage the new generation of researchers to take full advantage of the range of science that can be done with the neutron and synchrotron instruments of sources such as the Diamond Light Source in Oxford, UK. 

The theme of the book is constructed using a geometric approach that is familiar to chemists. The desire of making the maths accessible to the less mathematical sciences leads to an introduction that some readers may find a little basic. Still, the progress is quick and it is not long before the author begins to work through the fundamentals of the different aspects of scattering theory, and it is here that Sivia’s careful manner and construction are most apparent. 

The utility of Elementary scattering theory does not lie in its ability to provide a detailed introduction to the science that can be studied with neutron and x-ray scattering. It is in its potential to introduce the background theory of these techniques and to render more accessible the heavier volumes that may reside next to it. 

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