Developing atom probe tomography of phyllosilicates in preparation for extra-terrestrial sample return

Daly, L. et al. (2021) Developing atom probe tomography of phyllosilicates in preparation for extra-terrestrial sample return. Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research, 45(3), pp. 427-441. (doi: 10.1111/ggr.12382)

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Hydrous phyllosilicate minerals, including the serpentine subgroup, are likely to be major constituents of material that will be bought back to Earth by missions to Mars and to primitive asteroids Ryugu and Bennu. Small quantities (< 60 g) of micrometre sized, internally heterogeneous material will be available for study, requiring minimally destructive techniques. Many conventional methods are unsuitable for phyllosilicates as they are typically finely crystalline and electron beam sensitive resulting in amorphisation and dehydration. New tools will be required for nanoscale characterisation of these precious extra‐terrestrial samples. Here we test the effectiveness of atom probe tomography (APT) for this purpose. Using lizardite from the Ronda peridotite, Spain, as a terrestrial analogue, we outline an effective analytical protocol to extract nanoscale chemical and structural measurements of phyllosilicates. The potential of APT is demonstrated by the unexpected finding that the Ronda lizardite contains SiO‐rich nanophases, consistent with opaline silica that formed as a by‐product of the serpentinisation of olivine. Our new APT approach unlocks previously unobservable nanominerals and nanostructures within phyllosilicates owing to resolution limitations of more established imaging techniques. APT will provide unique insights into the processes and products of water/rock interaction on Earth, Mars and primitive asteroids.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was funded by STFC grant ST/T002328/1 awarded to M.R.L, J.D. and L.D. and the Glasgow-Sydney Partnership Collaboration Award awarded to J.C. and M.R.L. This work was also conducted within the Geoscience Atom Probe Facility at Curtin University, which is part of the Advanced Resource Characterisation Facility (ARCF). The Advanced Resource Characterisation Facility is being developed under the auspices of the National Resource Sciences Precinct – a collaboration between CSIRO, Curtin University and The University of Western Australia – and is supported by the Science and Industry Endowment Fund.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lee, Professor Martin and Daly, Dr Luke and Bagot, Dr Paul and Smith, Mr William
Authors: Daly, L., Lee, M. R., Darling, J. R., McCarrol, I., Yang, L., Cairney, J., Forman, L. V., Bland, P. A., Benedix, G. K., Fougerouse, D., Rickard, W. D.A., Saxey, D. W., Reddy, S. M., Smith, W., and Bagot, P. A.J.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
College of Science and Engineering > School of Physics and Astronomy
Journal Name:Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research
ISSN (Online):1751-908X
Published Online:22 March 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 The Authors
First Published:First published in Geostandards and Geoanalytical Research 45(3): 427-441
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
308251UK leadership in extraterrestrial sample returnMartin LeeScience and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)ST/T002328/1P&S - Physics & Astronomy