Xenon Mohs Hardness

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Xenon is one of the noble gases and produces an extremely bright bluish-white light useful in photographic flashes, lighting equipment and bacteria-killing medical light sources. It is also used in arc lamps, lasers and ion thrusters for deep space craft. Xenon is the third most abundant element in the Earth’s crust and has several isotopes including the radioactive Plutonium-238. This isotope is a byproduct of nuclear reactors and presents an environmental concern because of its disposal problems.

Minerals are ranked on the Mohs scale of hardness according to their ability to visibly scratch other minerals. The scale ranks ten different minerals in order from 1 to 10, with diamond being the hardest mineral. The scale is not perfect but it has proven to be very useful in the identification of rocks in the field.

To test for hardness, a point of the reference specimen is placed against a flat surface of the unknown specimen. A moderate amount of pressure is applied to the test specimen and the scratching action is observed. The unknown specimen will scratch the reference specimen if it is harder than the test specimen. If the unknown specimen is softer than the test specimen then it is a soft mineral.

Generally, the hardness of thin layers is determined by nanoindentation or scratch tests. However, these methods can only be applied if the layer thickness is large enough for the indentation depth to be feasible. In these cases, it is common to use the Brinell or Vickers test method instead of nanoindentation.