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Crystallography: Powder Diffraction File

Information resources for crystallography research [shortcut:]

Accessing the Powder Diffraction File (COVID-19/Summer 2020)

Due to the COVID-19 campus closure, the PDF-4+ program that is installed on a single computer workstation in the Library's west wing near the reference desk is currently unavailable. UCSD faculty, staff and students: if you need data from the Powder Diffraction File, please email me at with the compounds (molecular formulas, PDF/JCPDS numbers, etc.). I will send you the PDF cards and, if available, the associated STR and CIF files.

  • There is some overlap between PDF-4+ and the Inorganic Crystal Structure Database, which is available online. ICSD does allow searching by JCPDS number.
  • The PDF card will download as an XML document, accompanied by an XSL style sheet called pdfcard.xsl.
    • Keep the XSL file in the same folder with the XML document, otherwise the PDF card will not be readable when you open it. 

Powder Diffraction File (PDF-4+) contains over 426,000 entries of inorganic diffraction data for crystals and powders, a comprehensive collection of inorganic materials, produced in a standardized format that can be rapidly searched for unknown phase identification. Extensive data mining is facilitated with our 128 display fields coupled with 75 searches.  There are multiple ways to search the database, including by element(s) and JCPDS (PDF) numbers. 

For clarification, PDF here means Powder Diffraction File and not the PDF as in Adobe .pdf files.

For more about PDF-4+, please consult the International Centre for Diffraction Data (ICDD) tutorials.