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2008 Annual Science Report

University of Hawaii, Manoa Reporting  |  JUL 2007 – JUN 2008

Acquisition and Installation of Witec Confocal Raman Microscope Scanning System

Project Summary

We acquired the Witec Confocal Raman microscope scanning system with the help of the NAI because it provides a powerful tool to investigate the organic materials in primitive meteorites, comet samples, and interplanetary dust particles. These materials are the likely raw materials for life on Earth. The Raman system can also be used to investigate mineralogy of samples at a scale of a few microns and can produce mineral maps at a variety of scales. The intent was to have another state-of-the-art analytical tool to help catalyze collaborative research in astrobiology, cosmochemistry, astronomy, and the earth sciences.

4 Institutions
3 Teams
0 Publications
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Field Sites

Project Progress

This report covers the first full year of operation of the Raman microscope. It has taken a while to learn to use the system. One problem recognized early was that it was not possible using the system provided to control the power of the laser at high precision and low beam current conditions critical to the analysis of organic matter in meteorites. We have devised a system whereby neutral density filters can be inserted to reduce the laser power in a way that is very stable. We also found that a lack of transmitted light capability made it very difficult to find tiny 10-micron samples embedded in silicon oil, aerogel, and other substances. We have added a transmitted light capability to the system to solve this problem.

We have done some science with the Raman system as well. Lydie Bonal has studied the organic matter in lithic clasts from the Isheyevo meteorite in great detail. She found that the clasts show a range of thermal history, recorded in the organic material and revealed by the Raman microscope, and that they come from sources not sampled by other classes of meteorites (Bonal et al., 2008). An example of her data is shown in Figure 1. In addition to this work, we have been learning to find and measure tiny particles trapped in aerogel in preparation to study the Stardust samples.

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Users from other departments have also make good use of the new Raman system. Patty Fryer, of the Hawaii Institute of Geophysics and Planetology has been using it to make mineral maps of samples brought up from the ocean floor. Pavel Zinin and his colleagues have been using the Raman microscope to investigate high-pressure phases produced in their laboratory.