Opportunities at light source and neutron facilities

Jun 15, 2010

New intense sources of radiation at national facilities in Chicago, New York, and Tennessee coupled with the next generation of sensitive detectors are allowing geochemists like John Parise to gather images and data on minerals in one second that would take years of equivalent exposure on conventional laboratory x-ray facilities.

John Parise, professor, mineralogist and solid-state chemist at Stony Brook University, New York, discussed this and other new systems available to geochemists today at this year's Goldschmidt Conference, hosted by the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The enhanced power of x-rays and pulsed neutrons -- especially at the new facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory -- give geochemists more sensitive tools to detect, characterize and understand the mineral components and the contaminants they absorb or release. Identifying these minerals and how they change with varying conditions such as temperature, relative humidity and irradiation hold the key to understanding the evolution of planetary surfaces, including that of our Earth.

Parise and his colleagues have been studying ferrihydrite, a common iron oxide composed of minute crystals. The structure of ferrihydrite is impossible to get right by studying it with conventional laboratory x-ray techniques. However, by using high-energy x-rays created in a synchrotron storage ring accelerating electrons, the research team has been able to identify the of the ferrihydrite crystals as a relative of aluminum oxyhydroxide. The discovery of this basic structure has enabled Parise to show how environmental contaminants attach to the surface of this iron oxide.

"The need to look at materials in new ways has changed the science culture for some scientists who use these sources -- the very way they do science," Parise said. He discussed the importance of accessibility and continued development of light source and neutron facilities at the conference.

Explore further: World's first photonic pressure sensor outshines traditional mercury standard

More information: This year's Goldschmidt Conference is being held in Knoxville, Tenn., during the week of June 13-18.

Provided by University of Tennessee at Knoxville

3 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Universe may face a darker future

14 minutes ago

New research offers a novel insight into the nature of dark matter and dark energy and what the future of our Universe might be.

High-intensity sound waves may aid regenerative medicine

18 hours ago

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a way to use sound to create cellular scaffolding for tissue engineering, a unique approach that could help overcome one of regenerative medicine's ...

Formula could shed light on global climate change

22 hours ago

Wright State University researchers have discovered a formula that accurately predicts the rate at which soil develops from the surface to the underlying rock, a breakthrough that could answer questions about ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.