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Cambridge NERC Doctoral Training Partnerships

Graduate Research Opportunities

Lead Supervisor: Emilie Ringe, Earth Sciences 

Co-Supervisor: Oliver Shorttle, Earth Sciences

Importance of the area of research concerned: 
This project aim is to explore and expand the applicability of advanced optical and optical/electron spectroscopy approaches to mineral characterization. Over the past four years, the Ringe lab has developed a number of high spatial and spectral resolution mapping tools that enable the acquisition of optical spectra at each few hundreds of nanometers over hundreds of micrometer regions. This is invaluable in the study of micro and nanostructure in nanomaterials, and we are now interested in applying this technology to minerals. Further, by coupling optical spectroscopy with electron microscopy tools capable of interrogating the underlying crystal orientation and composition, we are able to understand the fundamental processes leading to colour—and eventually use optical signatures to probe the underlying crystal structure and composition in the field.
Project summary : 
During this project, we wish to answer the following question: (1) how does the optical absorption signature of minerals such as olivine vary at the micron scale, and what are the key components leading to this variation? (2) Are defects such as dislocations in olivine (a sign of compression and deformation) perceptible with optical tools, and to what extent? (3) How does optical absorption and cathodoluminescence of minerals be used as complementary techniques?
What will the student do?: 
The studies will mostly be performed in the state-of-the-art optical spectroscopy facilities available in the Ringe group, as well as the electron spectroscopy user facilities in Earth Sciences. Natural samples from co-supervisor Oliver Shorttle will first be investigated optically with a variety of techniques, and the optical signature will then be correlated with the structure, in the same exact area, obtained from electron microscopy. We aim to obtain this proof of concept in the first year of the project, which then will be expanded to other minerals and olivine with different history (hence different microsctructure).
A. Kumar, E. Villarreal, X. Zhang, E. Ringe, “Micro-Extinction Spectroscopy (MExS): A Versatile Optical Characterization Technique” Adv. Struct. Chem. Imag. (2018) 4, 8
You can find out about applying for this project on the Department of Earth Sciences page.