Trauma of the mineral hackmanite (or tenebrous sodalite) is a fascinating natural phenomenon that has long been a mystery to scientists – even though we are now able to engineer engineered synthetic materials that glow in the dark more effectively than anything in nature.
Geologists first described the mineral in the 1800s, characterized by its tendency to lighten a bright pink color when broken or kept in the dark and lost in light. Later research will narrow the chemistry behind this feature, but the exact nature of the reaction has proved elusive.
Now a new study outlines that some types of hackmanite retain their luster as they move from bright to dark settings. The key is the delicate difference between the natural impurities of the mineral, how it was determined.
For example, in developing our own synthetic material capable of glowing in the dark without any power source, scientists get a better understanding of how hackmanite can emit white luminance under dark conditions.
“We have done a lot of research with synthetic hackmanites and have been able to develop such a material with different times than natural hackmanite,” says material chemist Isabella Norbo of the University of Turku, Finland.
“However, the conditions affecting luminescence remain unclear so far.”
A combination of both experimental and computational data was studied to determine which concentrations and equilibria of sulfur, potassium, titanium, and iron were most important in the afterglow given by hackamite.
In particular, titanium was found to be a truly glowing element, with luminosity itself driven by electron transfer.
However, titanium concentrations are not sufficient to create luminescence only, with the right mixture of other elements also required.
Researchers say that through these types of studies synthetic materials can be improved and made more efficient and reliable – even if nature cannot match the brightness strength that can be engineered in the laboratory.
“The materials used at the moment are all synthetic, and, for example, materials with the familiar green material derive their luster from an element called europopium,” says material chemist Mica Latusari, from the University of Turk.
“The difficulty with such materials is that even if the desired element that emits luminescence can be added to it, their subsequent properties cannot be inferred.”
The study was used to sample hackmanite from Greenland, Canada, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, working with an international team of chemists, mineralogists, geologists, physicists, statisticians, and other scientists, which was occurring with hackmanite glitter .
Part of the mystery was why some hackamonites show a glow and others do not, but through careful comparison of different samples, the team exhibits the necessary mixture of orange photoluminescence (turning photons absorbed into light), blue solubility luminescence Was able to do. (Emitting light without heating), and violet photochromism (a form of chemical change due to electromagnetic radiation).
It is a complex mixture of natural elements and chemical reactions, but the result should be better synthetic materials that can match these types of luster. In the context of physics, it is important not just how bright the luminescence is, but also how long it lasts.
Says Latusari, “With these results, we gained valuable insight into the circumstances affecting the post-Hackmanite situation.”
“Even though nature has not, in this case, been able to create a material with luster like synthetic material, nature has helped significantly in the development of increasingly more effective luster materials.”
Has been published in Chemical material.