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NMSU Explores Gemstones With USP Laser

Photonics.com
Feb 2008
Ultrashort-pulse laser maker Raydiance Inc. of Petaluma, Calif., announced it is working with a geologist at New Mexico State University who has received funding for laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy of rock and mineral compositions, a process to analyze small parts of a mineral. The Raydiance platform will allow researchers to differentiate fake gemstones from real ones and to precisely identify individual gemstones without causing damage to the stones. Nancy McMillan, PhD, professor and academic head of the Department of Geological Sciences at NMSU and the lead investigator of the project, aims to illustrate how USP lasers can detect gemstones that were treated to look like real stones -- such as chemically coated diamonds, rubies injected with leaded glass to superficially remove flaws and sapphires that have been diffused with the element beryllium to produce a brilliant orange color. The research will also test the laser’s capability to identify minerals being illegally sold as more expensive ones, such as synthetic forsterite masquerading as tanzanite. McMillan’s is one of six research projects involving the Raydiance USP laser platform that are underway at NMSU. Others include spectroscopic techniques for sensitive detection and identification of chemical species or microorganisms, and live imaging of neural and sensory tissue for biomedical applications. (See also Raydiance: Welcome to the 'Light Age')


GLOSSARY
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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