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Preparation of clay mineral samples for high resolution x-ray imaging

Abbati, Gennaro; Seim, Christian; Legall, Herbert; Stiel, Holger; Thomas, Noel; Wilhein, Thomas

FG Analytische Röntgenphysik

In the development of optimum ceramic materials for plastic forming, it is of fundamental importance to gain insight into the compositions of the clay minerals. Whereas spectroscopic methods are adequate for determining the elemental composition of a given sample, a knowledge of the spatial composition, together with the shape and size of the particles leads to further, valuable insight. This requires an imaging technique such as high resolution X-ray microscopy. In addition, fluorescence spectroscopy provides a viable element mapping technique. Since the fine particle fraction of the materials has a major effect on physical properties like plasticity, the analysis is focused mainly on the smallest particles. To separate these from the bigger agglomerates, the raw material has to pass through several procedures like centrifugation and filtering. After that, one has to deposit a layer of appropriate thickness on to a suitable substrate. These preparative techniques are described here, starting from the clay mineral raw materials and proceeding through to samples that are ready to analyze. First results using high resolution x-ray imaging are shown.