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In situ TEM observations of plastic deformation in quartz crystals


With in situ nanocompression experiments in a transmission electron microscope, we investigated plastic deformation in natural quartz crystals and observed both dislocation plasticity as well as mechanical twinning. Through this experimental method, we are able to provide direct evidence of Dauphiné twin nucleation and could measure the intrinsic twinning stress. The twinning phenomena appear to include a memory effect, where the same twin can reappear upon successive loading and unloading events. The data provide insight into this twin generation mechanism and can be used as a benchmark for the use of twins in quartz for paleopiezometry. Together, the observation of room-temperature dislocation plasticity and reversible twinning adds new insight into the extensive field of quartz plasticity and demonstrates the usefulness of small-scale testing techniques for mineral physics.

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