Stephen Thompson

Key Research Interests

  • Astrophysics
  • Astromineralogy
  • Cosmic Dust
  • Planetary materials
  • Mineralisation and structural evolution
  • Non-ambient conditions

Stephen is the Senior Beamline Scientist for I11, having joined Diamond from the Daresbury  Laboratory synchrotron radiation source in 2005.

Main area of interest
The processing and evolution of minerals and materials in circumstellar, interstellar, protoplanetary and planetary environments through laboratory investigation.
Through the use of laboratory analogue materials my work focuses on understanding the physical properties and evolution of the most primitive and original forms of solid matter in the universe that ultimately formed the building blocks of the solar system, the planets and life on Earth.
X-ray powder diffraction, total scattering (XPDF), small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAFS), FTIR and Raman spectroscopy.

Research Topics

  • synthesis and characterisation of spectro-structural relationships in amorphous and nanoscale silicates
  • mineralisation pathways in cosmic and planetary materials under non-ambient conditions (thermal annealing, gas flow/pressure interactions, humidity etc.)
  • low-temperature aqueous precipitation of mineral phases in the ice-water environments of ocean worlds
  • stability and dissociation of gas hydrates (clathrates ) in saline conditions on planetary bodies 
  • interaction of pre-biotic molecules with amorphous and crystalline grains, biomineralisation and astrobiological materials 

Selected Publications

  • Amorphous Mg-Fe silicates from microwave-dried sol-gels: Multi-scale structure, mid-IR spectroscopy and thermal crystallisation. Thompson SP, Herlihy A, Murray CAM et al. Astronomy & Astrophysics 624, A136 (2019)
  • X-ray powder diffraction study of the stability of clathrate hydrates in the presence of salts with relevance to the Martian cryosphere. Safi E, Thompson SP, Evans A et al. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta 245, 304 (2019)
  • A slow-cooling-rate in situ cell for long-duration studies of mineral precipitation in cold aqueous environments on Earth and other planetary bodies. Thompson SP, Kennedy, H, Day SJ et al. Journal of Applied Crystallography 51, 1197 (2018)
  • Properties of CO2 clathrate hydrates formed in the presence of MgSO4 solutions with implications for icy moons. Safi E, Thompson SP, Evans et al. Astronomy & Astrophysics 600, A88, (2017) 
  • Amorphous silicate nanoparticles with controlled Fe-Mg pyroxene compositions. Thompson SP, Demyk K, Day SJ et al. Journal of Non-crystalline Solids 447, 255 (2016) 
  • In situ apparatus for the study of clathrate hydrates relevant to solar system bodies using synchrotron radiation and Raman spectroscopy. Day SJ, Thompson SP, Evans A et al. Astronomy & Astrophysics 574, A91 (2015)
  • Thermal breakdown of calcium carbonate and constraints on its use as a biomarker. Thompson SP, Parker JE, Tang CC. Icarus 229, 1 (2014)
  • Photoluminescence in amorphous MgSiO3 silicate. Thompson SP, Parker JE, Day SJ et al. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 434, 2582 (2013)
  • Thermal processing and crystallization of amorphous Mg-Ca silicates. Day SJ, Thompson SP, Evans A et al. Meteoritics & Planetary Science 48, 1459 (2013)
  • Non-aqueous formation of the calcium carbonate polymorph vaterite: astrophysical implications. Day SJ, Thompson SP, Parker JE et al. Astronomy & Astrophysics 553, A68 (2013)
  • The 10 um band in amorphous MgSiO3: the influence of medium-range structure, defects and thermal processing. Thompson SP, Parker JE, Tang CC. Astronomy & Astrophysics 545, A60 (2012)
  • Fine-grained amorphous calcium silicate CaSiO3 from vacuum dried sol-gel – production, characterisation and thermal behaviour. Thompson SP, Day SJ, Parker JE, et al. Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids 358, 885 (2012)
  • Morphological templating of metastable calcium carbonates by the amino acid leucine. Thompson SP, Parker JE, Street SR et al. Journal of Physics: Conference Series 286, 012030 (2011)
  • A study of the aragonite-calcite transformation using Raman spectroscopy, synchrotron powder diffraction and scanning electron microscopy. Parker JE, Thompson SP, Lennie AR et al. Crystengcomm 12, 1590 (2010)

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