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3.3 Crystal chemistry and structure

The bulk properties of the Earth are controlled to a significant extent by the physical and chemical properties of the constituent minerals, which are in turn determined largely by crystal structure and properties at the atomic scale. Consequently, studies of crystal chemistry and structure remain a focal point of research at Bayerisches Geoinstitut. Most of the studies described in this section involve synthesis of samples under controlled conditions, followed by characterisation and study using a variety of different techniques. The use of synthetic samples isolates information on the structure and properties of the material to be only a function of the experimental variables (temperature, pressure and/or composition), without influence from complexities introduced by impurities, defects or unknown histories of natural samples. The relevance of sample compositions to natural systems means that many results can be directly applied to understanding properties and processes within the Earth.

One of the main tools in these studies is X-ray diffraction, which provides a map of where individual atoms are located. The studies also use other techniques, particularly different types of spectroscopy, which provide complementary information on specific atomic species or processes, depending on the nature of the spectroscopy. To complement the experimental work, several studies incorporate theoretical modelling in order to provide a more complete description and understanding of the system being studied.

Bayerisches Geoinstitut, University of Bayreuth, 95440 Bayreuth, Germany
Tel: +49-(0) 921 55 3700 / 3766, Fax: +49-(0) 921 55 3769, E-mail: bayerisches.geoinstitut(at)