ZJU Discovers Chukochenite, A Boon for Rare Earth Luminescent Materials

Chukochenite, a new kind of mineral, brings a boon for the new emerging rare earth luminescent materials. Recently, a novel mineral, LiAl5O8, discovered by the research group of Professor Can Rao, School of Earth Sciences at Zhejiang University (ZJU), was approved by the Commission on New Minerals, Nomenclature and Classification (CNMNC) of the International Mineralogical Association (IMA). The mineral is named "Chukochenite". And the IMA number is IMA 2018-132a, the number of the Geological Museum of China is M13818.

backscattered electron of Chukochenite image

Chukochenite is the first lithium aluminum oxide discovered by scientists in nature. It holds a special crystal structure and can emit light to produce a special optical effect after incorporating other impurities. It owns a positive scientific value for the innovative development of emerging rare earth luminescent materials.

Since 2017, the research team of Can Rao has been researching on rare metal mineralogy of granite and surrounding skarn in Xianghualing skarn, Linwu County, Hunan Province, China. The new mineral produced here is the reaction of the surrounding granite intrusion process of the Laiziling granite, and it was formed around 155 million years ago. Rao introduced that the new mineral is named "Zhu Kezhen Stone" in Chinese, which is in the honor of the founder of Earth Science and former Academician Kezhen Zhu (1890-1974), as well as former president of ZJU.

Xianghualing skarn in Hunan province image

During the chemical composition analysis of the new probe with an electronic probe, the team found that the total amount of this mineral is only about 96 wt.%, far from the internationally recognized mineral, which may contain ultra-light metal elements. After continuous research, the research group confirmed the existence of metallic lithium in the mineral and determined its crystal structure, successfully discovered the new mineral.

Chukochenite's discovery by ZJU provided important information for a deeper understanding of lithium's geochemical behavior as well as brings a boon for the rare earth luminescent materials. Aside from this, the stone is produced together with fluorite, mica, alumoberyl, Nigerite, and other minerals. It is an instructional significance for the prospecting of key metal minerals such as beryllium ore and tin ore.

experimental sample of Chukochenite image