Electron energy-loss near-edge structure (ELNES) is an effective probe of the local geometrical and electronic environment around particular atomic species in the solid state. Energy-loss spectra from several silicate minerals were mostly acquired using a VG HB501 STEM fitted with a parallel detector. Typically a collection angle of ≈8mrad was used, and an energy resolution of ≈0.5eV was achieved.
Other authors have indicated that the ELNES of the Si L2,3-edge in α-quartz is dominated by the local environment of the silicon atom i.e. the SiO4 tetrahedron. On this basis, and from results on other minerals, the concept of a coordination fingerprint for certain atoms in minerals has been proposed. The concept is useful in some cases, illustrated here using results from a study of the Al2SiO5 polymorphs (Fig.l). The Al L2,3-edge of kyanite, which contains only 6-coordinate Al, is easily distinguished from andalusite (5- & 6-coordinate Al) and sillimanite (4- & 6-coordinate Al). At the Al K-edge even the latter two samples exhibit differences; with careful processing, the fingerprint for 4-, 5- and 6-coordinate aluminium may be obtained.