Structural Characterization of Iron Meteorites through Neutron Tomography

Stefano Caporali, Francesco Grazzi, Filomena Salvemini, Ulf Garbe, Steven Peetermans and Giovanni Pratesi

Minerals 2016, 6(1), 14; doi:10.3390/min6010014
Published: 19 February 2016

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“In this communication, we demonstrate the use of neutron tomography for the structural characterization of iron meteorites. These materials prevalently consist of metallic iron with variable nickel content. Their study and classification is traditionally based on chemical and structural analysis. The latter requires cutting, polishing and chemical etching of large slabs of the sample in order to determine the average width of the largest kamacite lamellae. Although this approach is useful to infer the genetical history of these meteorites, it is not applicable to small or precious samples. On the base of different attenuation coefficient of cold neutrons for nickel and iron, neutron tomography allows the reconstruction of the Ni-rich (taenite) and Ni-poor (kamacite) metallic phases. Therefore, the measure of the average width of the largest kamacite lamellae could be determined in a non-destructive way. Furthermore, the size, shape, and spatial correlation between kamacite and taenite crystals were obtained more efficiently and accurately than via metallographic investigation. “