- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
Natural and synthetic (pure and doped) zircon (ZrSiO4) have been studied with a variety of spectroscopic techniques. These techniques are based on different physical phenomena, for instance transitions between spin states of nuclei and electrons, energetic transitions of valence electrons, intra-molecular vibrations, or vibrations of atoms and molecular units in the lattice. All of the diverse spectroscopic techniques, however, have in common that they probe energy differences between a ground and excited states, mostly upon interaction of the mineral with incident radiation. Such interactions are not only determined by the excited elementary particles or molecules themselves but depend greatly on their local environments (i.e. number, type, valence and geometrical arrangement of neighboring atoms). Spectroscopic techniques are thus sensitive to the local structure and provide information on the short-range order.
Most research on zircon crystals using spectroscopic techniques was done to study their “real structures,” that is the characterization of deviations from “perfect” zircon. Such features include the incorporation of non-formula elements, structural defects and the presence of inclusions and other impurities. Correspondingly, most of the spectroscopic investigations can be assigned to two major groups. The first group represents studies done to characterize the structural position and local environment of non-formula elements when incorporated in the zircon lattice, and accompanying effects on physical properties. The second group comprises studies subjected to the real structures of “metamict” zircon samples, i.e., changes of the zircon structure caused by the impact of self-irradiation and upon recovery from radiation damage (Ewing et al., this volume).
It is most obvious that a spectroscopic bulk or point analysis will first of all yield a spectrum (i.e. a plot of the intensity of the respective physical parameter versus wavelength, frequency or wavenumber), and this is what is used in most studies. In addition, image generation based on …