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X-Ray Technology Shed New Light on Tiny, rare Crystals, Researchers Discover New Mineral

As a tiny needle in a sprawling hayfield, a single crystal grain measuring tens of millionths of a meter—located in a borehole sample drilled in Central Siberia—had a sudden chemical make-up.

And a specific X-ray method in use at the Division of Power’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) proved the sample’s uniqueness and made way for its formal admission as a newly found mineral – ognitite.

Based on this achievement with the technique at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS), the analysis team is using it to review other tiny samples of hopeful candidates for brand new mineral discoveries. The ALS is a synchrotron that designs X-rays and different types of light for dozens of simultaneous measures.

“The difficulty is that these minerals can be extraordinarily rare and are available in minimal quantities,” stated Nobumichi Tamura, a scientist at the ALS who helped to customize the experimental method—generally known as X-ray Laue microdiffraction (and also micro-Laue X-ray diffraction) – to review tiny crystal samples alongside minerals. Tamura participated in the ognitite discovery and is now operating with the same crew to explore different samples.

The ognitite mineral’s structure and different properties are described in a research printed in May in Mineralogical Magazine and further documented in the European Journal of Mineralogy. The research additionally defines a brand new, cobalt-rich mineral variety—described as “cobaltian maucherite—that Tamura explored using the same approach at the ALS.

The form of X-ray Laue micro-diffraction implemented at the ALS makes use of a narrowly focused X-ray beam that spans a range of energies to discover the atomic structure of supplies in an exquisite element. The beam is concentrated to nearly a hundredth the diameter of a human hair.

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Linda Vasquez

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