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Advances in Condensed Matter Physics
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 9707604, 9 pages
https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/9707604
Research Article

Structural Characterization of Natural and Processed Zircons with X-Rays and Nuclear Techniques

1Departamento de Física, IFLP-CCT-CONICET, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, CC 67, 1900 La Plata, Argentina
2Facultad de Ciencias Agrarias y Forestales, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, IFLP-CCT-CONICET, 60 y 119 s/n, 1900 La Plata, Argentina
3Departamento de Física, IFLP-CCT-CONICET, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, CICPBA, CC 67, 1900 La Plata, Argentina
4Department of Engineering “Enzo Ferrari”, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via P. Vivarelli 10, 41125 Modena, Italy
5Department of Engineering and Architecture, University of Parma, Parco Area delle Scienze 181/A, 43124 Parma, Italy
6Department of Science and Methods of Engineering, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via Amendola 2, 42100 Reggio Emilia, Italy
7Department of Chemistry “G. Ciamician”, University of Bologna, Via Selmi 2, 40126 Bologna, Italy

Correspondence should be addressed to Laura C. Damonte

Received 20 March 2017; Accepted 18 June 2017; Published 10 September 2017

Academic Editor: Sergei Sergeenkov

Copyright © 2017 Laura C. Damonte et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

In ceramic industry, zircon sand is widely used in different applications because zirconia plays a role as common opacifying constituent. In particular, it is used as a basic component of glazes applied to ceramic tiles and sanitary ware as well as an opacifier in unglazed bulk porcelain stoneware. Natural zircon sands are the major source of zirconium minerals for industrial applications. In this paper, long, medium, and short range studies were conducted on zirconium minerals originated from Australia, South Africa, and United States of America using conventional and less conventional techniques (i.e., X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), Positron Annihilation Lifetime Spectroscopy (PALS), and Perturbed Angular Correlations (PAC)) in order to reveal the type and the extension of the regions that constitute the metamict state of zircon sands and the modifications therein produced as a consequence of the industrial milling process and the thermal treatment in the production line. Additionally, HPGe gamma-ray spectroscopy confirms the occurrence of significant levels of natural radioactivity responsible for metamictization in the investigated zircon samples. Results from XRD, PALS, and PAC analysis confirm that the metamict state of zircon is a dispersion of submicron disordered domains in a crystalline matrix of zircon.