In particular, a Kratky analysis is often performed on polymer solutions. Here, the shape of the curve in the Kratky plot helps identify the conformation of the polymer chain:
- A rise to a plateau indicates an unfolded chain (random coil)
- A distinct peak is indicative of a compact or folded conformation for the chain (in biological studies, this may be a protein in a well-defined/folded state).
- Other conformations can also potentially be distinguished:
The validity of a Kratky analysis is strongly dependent on data quality. Only with a very careful and representative background subtraction can the analysis be considered reliable.