, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 102-108

Small angle neutron scattering by opals

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 Micro- and non-crystalline opals, chalcedony and flint show diffuse small angle neutron scattering (SANS). Precious opals give rise to two additional intensity maxima at very small scattering angles which are due to Bragg reflections from the closest packed non-crystalline silica spheres. A small angle texture diagram reveals that the closest packing is faulty. Synthetic non-crystalline opals yield much less intense small angle scattering due to lower contrast between silica spheres and interstitial cement or particles; in this case intensity maxima were not observed. The outer part of the scattering curves of opal-CT and microcrystalline quartz deviates from Porod's law. The specific surface of natural non-crystalline opals ranges from 0.006 to 0.018 nm–1. In microcrystalline opals, the specific surface is about 10 times larger than in non-crystalline opals.

Received March 29, 1996 / Revised, accepted June 26, 1996