Solve the mystery of the 200-year-old dolomite

Solve the mystery of the 200-year-old dolomite

About the episode

For 200 years, scientists have been unable to faithfully recreate the common mineral dolomite — known from the mountain range — in a laboratory. Now a team of researchers has succeeded.

When most minerals are formed, the atoms usually place themselves in an organized manner on the edge where the crystal grows. But the growing edge of dolomite is much messier. Rows of calcium and magnesium alternating with each other are also formed. These layers are randomly associated with the growth edge of the dolomite crystal. In some places, this stops the growth of the metal.

This ensures that the dolomite forms painfully slowly. Making one good layer of dolomite would take 10 million years in a laboratory. Not really a profitable business. But as it turns out, this inhibitory mechanism can be solved very easily. with water.

In nature, it regularly happens that the crystal formed is washed away by rain or tides. This ensures that unstable, irregularly placed atoms at the growth edge can form a layer of dolomite within a few years.

Researchers got to work with this knowledge. Complex models and calculations involving atoms were followed to determine exactly what could be done in the laboratory. Thus it was possible to grow 300 layers in a short time for the first time, whereas previously it was not possible to achieve more than 5 layers.

Why is this important? They are expected to be able to put this knowledge to good use in developing new materials that can take conductors, solar panels, batteries and other technologies to the next level.

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Read more about the research here: “The Dolomite Problem”: Solving a 200-Year-Old Geological Mystery

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