The manufacturing process for silica products very often leads to the creation of cristobalite, and given the very small crystal structures that cristobalite can form there is a great need for evaluation finished products for the existence of cristobalite (Kalpokaite-Dickuviene et al. 2009; Tamura et al. 1998). Such evaluation is fairly simplistic however, as the existence of cristobalite irregularities and structures on silica surfaces becomes fairly obvious under basic microscopy, though more extensive evaluation on all fronts yields interesting information.
Cristobalite structures can be detected and described at a more accurate level through X-ray techniques, which can yield information about the full extent of cristobalite formation and the particulars of its effect within a specific given product or product run of silica materials (Tamura et al. 1998; Wright & Leadbetter 1975). More detailed analyses of cristobalite formation in both experimental and real-world manufacturing situations reveal significant information regarding the timing and structural characteristics of cristobalite formation. SEM and XRD techniques, for example, enable a better understanding of the morphology and microstructure of product samples for an understanding not only of where cristobalite forms, but also providing clues as to how and when the particular crystals formed in relation to the other substances that can form via the devitrification of silica substances (Kalpokaite-Dickuviene et al. 2009).
As the needs of technology and industry grow, the limits of what is possible continue to be pushed. Cristobalite crystallization is currently an unavoidable part of the manufacturing process of many silica-based products. Though the formation of cristobalite is unavoidable, however, it is controllable, and as scientific investigation and understanding progress the formation of these largely unwanted — at least in manufacturing — crystals can be further reduced. This is dependent on continuing empirical and experimental research into the area, pushing the boundaries of the understood and the possible.
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Kalpokaite-Dickuviene, R.; Kezelis, R.; Cesniene, J. & Brinkiene, K. (2009). “Microstructure Analysis of Fibrous Material Manufactured by Plasma Spray Method.” Materials science 15(3), pp. 262-5.
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