We developed a novel technique called "analytical dual-energy microtomography" that uses the linear attenuation coefficients (LACs) of minerals at two different X-ray energies to nondestructively obtain three-dimensional (3D) images of mineral distribution in materials such as rock specimens. The two energies are above and below the absorption edge energy of an abundant element, which we call the "index element". The chemical compositions of minerals forming solid solution series can also be measured. The optimal size of a sample is of the order of the inverse of the LAC values at the X-ray energies used. We used synchrotron-based microtomography with an effective spatial resolution of >200. nm to apply this method to small particles (30-180. μm) collected from the surface of asteroid 25143 Itokawa by the Hayabusa mission of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). A 3D distribution of the minerals was successively obtained by imaging the samples at X-ray energies of 7 and 8. keV, using Fe as the index element (the K-absorption edge of Fe is 7.11. keV). The optimal sample size in this case is of the order of 50. μm. The chemical compositions of the minerals, including the Fe/Mg ratios of ferromagnesian minerals and the Na/Ca ratios of plagioclase, were measured. This new method is potentially applicable to other small samples such as cosmic dust, lunar regolith, cometary dust (recovered by the Stardust mission of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration [NASA]), and samples from extraterrestrial bodies (those from future sample return missions such as the JAXA Hayabusa2 mission and the NASA OSIRIS-REx mission), although limitations exist for unequilibrated samples. Further, this technique is generally suited for studying materials in multicomponent systems with multiple phases across several research fields.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geochemistry and Petrology