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IXAS Strategy toward Standardization

Hiroyuki Oyanagi
Electronics and Photonics Research Institute, AIST, 1-1-1 Umezono, Tsukuba 305-8568, Japan

The rapid growth of synchrotron radiation (SR) facilities, particularly since the advent of the 3rd generation (3G) followed by accumulating number of experimenters has led to a significant increase of output of XAFS research. Unfortunately, the quality divide of users has in effect lead to the degradation of publications and loss of reliability. Expertise is achieved only through a slow process (learning and experience), although communication and information sharing technology dramatically progressed. Since the first meeting on “standards and criteria in x-ray absorption spectroscopy” in 1988 followed by a publication [1], round table discussions have been frequently held at previous XAFS conferences, under the same philosophy but with limited success [2].

The use of standardization is to implement guidelines, a design, or measurements in order to obtain solutions to an otherwise disorganized system. According to ISO, “when standards are absent, we soon notice,” implying our keen awareness of products (data) with poor quality, which do not fit, or are incompatible with the quality level (standard) that we already have. In our community, for example, a phase shift calculation code “FEFF” might be considered as one such “standards”, while some of the data analysis packages are close to this level. If data format is standardized as well, users can exchange resources with each other, making collaborations more possible between distant institutions and giving opportunities to researchers who have no access to the SR facilities. Other fields that need standardization or recommendations to improve quality are: criteria in energy scale accuracy, SR beam purity and stability, detector linearity, sample preparation and procedures etc.

How can we implement standards and recommendations? We need to reach a consensus on solutions that meet both the requirements of common science as well as the community. With a standard in place, users will be ensured with desirable characteristics of data and services such as quality, user friendliness, safety, reliability, efficiency and interchangeability - and at an economical cost. The necessary first step would be for the community to share a common understanding on the merits of standardization. The IXAS and IUCr can work together to discuss their roles to form and implement standardization. The results of the IXAS questionnaire show majority view of experts expect the implementation of standardization in data collection, data format, data analysis, and database within 3-5 years.

The impact of workshop in Tsukuba in its role as the first kick-off opportunity for relevant experts representing various categories of application will be significant. Efforts will be continued by annual workshops to yield draft documents and approval in the XAFS16 meeting (Karlsruhe, 2015). I have high expectations that the voluntary efforts will produce fruitful outcome towards achieving necessary actions for standardization. Urgent need of standardization in data format is widely recognized. For this purpose, a special working group focusing on data format is to be formed which will evaluation several possible candidates to be reported in XAFS15 (Beijing, 2012).

[1] F.W. Lytle, D.E. Sayers and E.A. Stern, Physica B 158, 701 (1989)
[2] July, 2000 report, D.E. Sayers, unpublished. (downloadable pdf file )