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Art of Science image titled Earth

Scientist Collaborator Krishna Chaitanya Polavaram

Nishant Garg Laboratory

WiTech AFM-Raman spectrometer using TruSurface module

Funded by University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering

The original research image captures five different types of minerals of a polished construction rock called microcline. The sample was scanned using the WiTech AFM-Raman spectrometer using the TruSurface module at the IGB Core Facilities. Microcline is formed by the cooling and solidification of magma or lava. It is rich in potassium with minor amounts of sodium and may be clear, white, pale-yellow, brick-red, or green.

Microcline is one of the principle components of granite, a rock commonly used in construction. Researchers use microcline as a marker to assess the lifespan of existing nuclear power plants and study the effect of radiation on the construction material. Nuclear energy provides 10% of the world’s electricity and is generated from 440 power reactors. By studying how the construction materials respond to radiation, scientists can reduce the damage caused by radiation and improve the life of nuclear plants.

Sound by Anders Pollack