- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
The availability of synchrotron radiation (SR) to the scientific community has literally revolutionized the way X-ray science is done in many disciplines, including low temperature geochemistry and environmental science. The key reason is that SR provides continuum vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) and X-ray radiation five to ten orders of magnitude brighter than that from standard sealed or rotating anode X-ray tubes (Winick 1987; Altarelli et al. 1998). Although SR was first observed indirectly by John Blewitt in 1945 (Blewitt 1946) and directly by Floyd Haber in 1946 at the General Electric 100-MeV Betatron in Schenectady, NY (see Elder et al. 1947; Baldwin 1975), it took 10 to 15 years before the first systematic applications of SR, which involved spectroscopic studies of the VUV absorption of selected elements (Tomboulian and Hartman 1956) using the 300-MeV synchrotron at Cornell University and of rare gases (Madden and Codling 1963) using the National Bureau of Standards SURF I synchrotron. As of September 2002, there are about 75 storage ring-based SR sources in operation, in construction, funded, or in advanced planning in 23 countries, with 10 fully dedicated SR storage ring facilities in the U.S.. A listing of these sources can be obtained at the following web site: http://www-ssrl.slac.stanford.edu/sr_sources.html.
The first SR experiments relevant to low temperature geochemistry and environmental science, although not performed on earth or environmental materials, were X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) spectroscopy measurements on amorphous and crystalline germanium oxide conducted on the SPEAR storage ring at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Project in 1971 by Dale Sayers, Farrel Lytle, and Edward Stern (Sayers et al. 1971). Prior to the availability of SR in the hard X-ray energy range (> 5 keV), XAFS spectroscopy measurements were impractical because of the high X-ray flux required and the need for a continuously tunable …