Critical Assessment of the Mineralogical Collections at Uppsala University using Raman Spectroscopy

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för geovetenskaper

Abstract: The technique of Raman spectroscopy was applied in order to identify and characterize the number of minerals in the mineralogical collection at the Department of Earth Sciences. The collection was broadened with five rare carbonates borrowed from the collection of the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. In total, 66 specimens were examined.The characteristics of interest included possible presence and nature of defects and impurities, degree of crystallinity, residual stresses, possible treatment by natural heat sources (e.g. radionuclides) or chemicals (e.g. polishing agents), and fluorescence.Raman spectroscopy was chosen as examination method because of its distinctive advantage over traditional techniques – a non-destructive probing of pristine materials and minimum or no preparation. Besides, Raman spectroscopy performs very well in collecting the needed characteristics, in terms of its sensitivity, as well ability to probe miniature grains in a matrix with a high spatial resolution.A portable system was used to identify the presence of impurities and the fingerprint of the host rock in the majority of the examined carbonates. The rare carbonate burbankite showed distinct fluorescence bands, which likely can be explained by its complicated chemical composition.The Raman system was used for gemmological purposes and helped to identify the purity of the gems. Diamond and two rubies showed to be free from impurities, but red corundum showed a broad peak, which may represent traces of natural heat treatment, which in turn could be caused by regional metamorphism or even by a radiation source. Furthermore, the correlation between the signal intensity of the fluorites’ bands and the chemical composition of the minerals were studied. The experiment showed that blue fluorite fully misses the peak T2g while purple and grey fluorites showed a well-developed and easily recognizable peak at this location. Thus, it was discovered that the presence and intensity of this peak is directly dependent on the fluorite’s colour, i.e. on the host species, which are incorporated in the crystal structure, such as metals, rare earth elements (REE) or even organic substances. Moreover, residual tensile stress was identified in colourless quartz. The tensile stress was estimated to be in the interval between 0.23 and 1.0 GPa.The Raman system was used to identify different end-members of the garnet family. Raman spectroscopy showed to have high analytical power and helped to estimate the ratio between the end-members in eight garnet samples. In one case, fluorescence was linked to the presence of REEs in the structure of almandine. One sample of calcite showed to be incorrectly placed in the collection. This work will now form a solid foundation for the mineral characteristics handbook.

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