A long chain crystal – Silver behenate

What does it look like?

Carbon atoms are brown, oxygen red, hydrogen pink and silver are, well, silver atoms here! Image generated by the VESTA (Visualisation for Electronic and STructual analysis) software http://jp-minerals.org/vesta/en/

Carbon atoms are brown, oxygen red, hydrogen pink and silver are, well, silver atoms here! Image generated by the VESTA (Visualisation for Electronic and STructual analysis) software http://jp-minerals.org/vesta/en/

What is it?

This is one of the materials behind thermal printing, it’s a dry material that when exposed to heat leaves behind silver nanoparticles that are capable of absorbing enough light to be viewed. It also has a really interesting diffraction pattern, with strong peaks at low angles from the large spacing between the silver atoms.

A typical diffraction pattern of a film of silver behenate (in PET), taken from here http://ig.crystallography.org.uk/admin/newslarr.htm

A typical diffraction pattern of a film of silver behenate (in PET), taken from here http://ig.crystallography.org.uk/admin/newslarr.htm

This means it’s been really useful as a standard for people doing small angle diffraction.

Where did the structure come from

The crystal structure of silver behenate was determined from powder diffraction in 2011 by Blanton et al, and you can find it in the Open Crystallography Database, #1507774.

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