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Assessing an aqueous flow cell designed for in situ crystal growth under X-ray nanotomography and effects of radiolysis products

Publication Type
Journal Name
Journal of Synchrotron Radiation
Publication Date
Page Numbers
634 to 642

Nucleation and growth of minerals has broad implications in the geological, environmental and materials sciences. Recent developments in fast X-ray nanotomography have enabled imaging of crystal growth in solutions in situ with a resolution of tens of nanometres, far surpassing optical microscopy. Here, a low-cost, custom-designed aqueous flow cell dedicated to the study of heterogeneous nucleation and growth of minerals in aqueous environments is shown. To gauge the effects of radiation damage from the imaging process on growth reactions, radiation-induced morphological changes of barite crystals (hundreds of nanometres to ∼1 µm) that were pre-deposited on the wall of the flow cell were investigated. Under flowing solution, minor to major crystal dissolution was observed when the tomography scan frequency was increased from every 30 min to every 5 min (with a 1 min scan duration). The production of reactive radicals from X-ray induced water radiolysis and decrease of pH close to the surface of barite are likely responsible for the observed dissolution. The flow cell shown here can possibly be adopted to study a wide range of other chemical reactions in solutions beyond crystal nucleation and growth where the combination of fast flow and fast scan can be used to mitigate the radiation effects.