Scientists have finally managed to grow a common mineral in the lab that they previously couldn’t. The mineral is called dolomite, and it’s a key part of many rock formations around the world.
The researchers developed a new theory based on atomic simulations that helped them understand how dolomite grows in nature. They found that defects in the mineral’s structure slow down its growth, but they can be dissolved with water, allowing the crystal to form more quickly.
Using advanced simulations and a shortcut in the software to calculate the energy of atomic interactions, the researchers were able to simulate dolomite growth over geologic timescales.
The researchers also tested their theory with a transmission electron microscope, which allowed them to watch dolomite crystals grow in real time.
The lessons learned from studying the Dolomite Problem could help engineers manufacture better materials for semiconductors, solar panels, batteries, and other technology.
The research was funded by the American Chemical Society PRF New Doctoral Investigator grant, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science.
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