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|The cI16 crystal structure|
Sodium interacts with X-rays very weakly, so in the past it has been very difficult to gather detailed information on its structure. However, using the very high intensity X-rays generated by Diamond, combined with specialised high pressure sample environments on the Extreme Conditions beamline (I15), has allowed scientists to determine the full structure at this high pressure for the first time.
Eugene Gregoryanz of the University of Edinburgh says, "Our results demonstrate the potential of synchrotrons for studying the structure of light elements at very high pressures, and open the way for examining still more intriguing phases of sodium and other alkali metals." Malcolm McMahon adds, "This research is a real breakthrough in taking techniques for single-crystal structure refinement into the megabar range."
Prof Andrew Jephcoat, leading the extreme conditions beamline at Diamond says; "After years of preparation and hard work from the beamline team, it is good to see that the facility is delivering high quality science. The research team has risen to both technical and scientific challenges to produce these first results."
An additional 10 papers are currently pending to be published from research carried out in 2007....so watch this space!
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