Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Identifying gems and minerals on Earth and on Mars

13.03.2006


It’ll be a snap to identify gemstones once Robert Downs finishes his library of spectral fingerprints for all the Earth’s minerals.



Downs is almost halfway there. So far, the associate professor of geosciences at The University of Arizona in Tucson has cataloged about 1,500 of the approximately 4,000 known minerals using a technique called Raman spectroscopy. The effort is known as the RRUFF Project.

"We’re developing a tricorder," Downs said, referring to the instrument used on the "Star Trek" television show that could be waved over materials to identify their chemical composition.


Downs’ work is destined for space. Although Downs’ current Raman spectrometer takes up an area the size of a tabletop, his colleague M. Bonner Denton, a UA professor of chemistry and of geosciences, is developing a pocket-sized Raman spectrometer to be used on the 2009 Mars rover.

Downs is collaborating with George Rossman of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena to develop the database of minerals.

The technology being developed for Mars will help create handheld instruments for use on Earth.

One use for a hand-held instrument would be the identification of gemstones. Downs and Denton will both give presentations on that aspect of the project on Sunday afternoon, March 12, at the 57th Annual Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (PITTCON 2006).

Their presentations will be part of the symposium, "Gemstone/Mineral Analysis: Developing Non-Destructive Analytical Methods and Assessment Standards for Identification and Classification," held in room 222A of the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla..

Denton’s 2:55 p.m. presentation, "The Present and Future Potential of Raman Spectroscopy in the Characterization of Gems and Minerals," will be followed at 3:15 p.m. by Downs’ presentation, "The RRUFF Project: Creating an Integrated Database of Oriented Raman Spectra, X-Ray Diffraction and Electron Microprobe Analyses of Minerals."

Other ways to accurately identify minerals, such as X-ray diffraction and electron microprobe, require grinding a bit of the sample to powder or polishing the sample in a specific manner.

However, such rough treatment may not be the method of choice to determine that a glittering gemstone is truly a diamond, rather than just a piece of cubic zirconia.

Unlike other methods of identifying minerals, a Raman spectrometer does not require destructive sampling. It shoots a laser beam at the sample. The laser excites atoms within the sample, which then emit a very weak light of a wavelength in a pattern characteristic of the material.

"It’s like a fingerprint," Downs said.

The technique is named after Sir C.V. Raman, who won a 1930 Nobel Prize for figuring out the underlying physics.

But no Raman spectrometer, big or small, can conclusively identify Mars rocks or any other kinds of minerals without the kind of comprehensive database Downs is creating.

When an unknown material is analyzed with a Raman spectrometer, it can be identified by comparing it with reference information from a database.

Mari N. Jensen | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.arizona.edu

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht PR of MCC: Carbon removal from atmosphere unavoidable for 1.5 degree target
22.05.2018 | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH

nachricht Monitoring lava lake levels in Congo volcano
16.05.2018 | Seismological Society of America

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: LZH showcases laser material processing of tomorrow at the LASYS 2018

At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.

At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...

Im Focus: Self-illuminating pixels for a new display generation

There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?

At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...

Im Focus: Explanation for puzzling quantum oscillations has been found

So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics

Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...

Im Focus: Dozens of binaries from Milky Way's globular clusters could be detectable by LISA

Next-generation gravitational wave detector in space will complement LIGO on Earth

The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...

Im Focus: Entangled atoms shine in unison

A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.

The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Save the date: Forum European Neuroscience – 07-11 July 2018 in Berlin, Germany

02.05.2018 | Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Designer cells: artificial enzyme can activate a gene switch

22.05.2018 | Life Sciences

PR of MCC: Carbon removal from atmosphere unavoidable for 1.5 degree target

22.05.2018 | Earth Sciences

Achema 2018: New camera system monitors distillation and helps save energy

22.05.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>