Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cool SEM Photos

One of the problems of grad student life is that sometimes things in the lab just don't work. You can read all the papers, copy and execute all the procedures, yet sometimes things just don't pan out the way you want them to. Unfortunately, this happened in our lab a few weeks ago when we were trying to extract iodine from mudstone samples. Ideally, the final result would have been a bright yellow powder composed of silver iodide (AgI). However, in the case of our mudstone samples, the iodine was getting lost somewhere in the extraction process, and we could not figure out where. This was an obvious problem and one that we needed to resolve. To do this we decided to try using the brand new scanning electron microscope (SEM) that a professor in the department just purchased. SEM works by shooting a sample with a beam of electrons and then analyzing the energy emitted from the sample which is dependant on the shape, composition and conductivity. This allows us to obtain a very high magnification image as well as gather information about the sample composition. I am not going to go into a detailed description of SEM now...perhaps in a future post. This post is more about looking at the cool photos we took to try and figure out why our extraction procedure was unreliable...we are still working on finding an answer.

Sorry no scale. This one is mostly sodium hydroxide.

No idea what this is??
The "Fortress of Solitude" for a very tiny Superman. The scale bar is 1mm. Also not sure what this is besides it being silica rich.

The "fortress" a little bit closer

The "fortress" really zoomed in.
Hope you liked looking at these photos. Hopefully I'll have more to post in the near future. All of these photos were taken using a JEOL 6610LV SEM for any who are interested.


The sample chamber. The round thing is a pewter beer stein being analyzed for lead. I have no idea if any was found.
Here is the current website for the lab:


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