NHMLA Mineral Sciences Curator Blog
We just completed the first stage of building a vibrant, educational, and state-of-the-art mineral analysis research laboratory to visually showcase museum research/mentoring activities and develop long lasting partnerships with academic institutions and industry. The walls and furniture were installed May 2016. We are looking forward to outfitting the lab with new instrumentation over the summer months!
Dr. Aaron Celestian took his version of field-work: a research trip to one of the most powerful X-ray sources in the world. Named the Advanced Photon Source, this synchrotron is located just outside of Chicago, and uses a very large ring to accelerate electrons at near the speed of light. Synchrotron light is generated when bunches of electrons change direction at constant speed, and as they turn they radiate a tremendous amount of X-ray light. Dr. Celestian uses this light is used to probe how atoms move in space and time through nano porous minerals.
The end goal of this study is to detail how toxic metals, like cesium, are absorbed and locked away in minerals atomic structure. These experiments will provide the data needed to model how the crystals change to accommodate the ingoing metals and provide new insights on how these minerals behave. These developing models will prove useful for understanding toxic metal transport in the groundwater, as well as provide much needed models for future applications of metal separation in industry.