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: Could 'Jedi Putter' be the force golfers need?

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

Could 'Jedi Putter' be the force golfers need?

Apr 18, 2014

Putting is arguably the most important skill in golf; in fact, it's been described as a game within a game. Now a team of Rice engineering students has devised a training putter that offers golfers audio, ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Apr 17, 2014

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...