Project M - 1000 samples, 100 schools, one great big experiment
100 schools are taking part in Project M - a novel and exciting research project. In order to help us understand calcium carbonate, each school has made 10 samples, using specially selected additives. The samples have been sent back to us to analyse using our laboratory Beamline I11 at Diamond. We have analysed all samples returned in a 24 hour period on the 26th April 2017. This experiment will be used to produce a giant set of results which we hope (fingers crossed) will produce a scientific publication – this research has never been done before. The data were live tweeted during collection on the @DLSProjectMLive twitter account. We will continue to tweet @DLSProjectM throughout the summer whilst we are analysing data and understanding the results.
Calcium carbonate has three main forms or ‘polymorphs’: vaterite, calcite and aragonite. We are trying to find out which of the polymorphs form for each of the additives. Some of these additives are amino acids, the building blocks which create proteins in the body. We know how to identify the different polymorphs using Diamond – they each have a specific chemical fingerprint which we can detect using X-rays.