Dry annealing of radiation-damaged zircon: single-crystal X-ray and Raman spectroscopy study

Martin Ende, Chutimun Chanmuang N., Peter W. Reiners, Dmitry A. Zamyatin, Sarah E. M. Gain, Richard Wirth, Lutz Nasdala*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
19 Downloads (Pure)


Structural reconstitution upon dry thermal annealing of mildly to strongly radiation-damaged, gem-quality zircon from Sri Lanka has been studied by single-crystal X-ray diffraction and Raman spectroscopy. Results of structure refinement of a strongly radiation-damaged zircon (sample GZ5, calculated alpha dose ~4 × 1018 g−1) indicate the existence of an interstitial oxygen site that is sparsely occupied (about 4% of all O atoms). Annealing of this sample at Ta (annealing temperature) = 700 °C has resulted in nearly complete recrystallization of its amorphous volume fraction and significant decrease in the occupation of O-interstitial sites. For all samples studied, annealing up to Ta ≤ 650–700 °C is characterised by preferred recovery of Raman shifts (compared to Raman FWHMs; full width at half band maximum) and extensive contraction of the unit-cell volume, in particular along unit-cell dimension a. This low-T annealing is dominated by epitaxial growth of the crystalline volume fraction at the expense of the amorphous volume fraction, and general recovery of low-energy defects. During annealing at Ta = 700–1400 °C there is preferred recovery of Raman FWHMs (compared to Raman shifts) and only mild unit-cell contraction. High-T annealing is dominated by the recovery of high-energy defects such as recombination of cation Frenkel pairs. Here, unit-cell parameter a shows a remarkable behaviour (namely, mild re-increase at Ta = 700–1150 °C and mild final shrinking at Ta = 1000–1400 °C), which is attributed to enhanced contortion of ZrO8 polyhedrons due to cation repulsion. The combined data set of Raman band and unit-cell parameter presented herein will help analysts to assign Raman spectra of annealed unknowns to certain recovery stages.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106523
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Zircon
  • Radiation damage
  • Annealing
  • Single-crystal X-ray diffraction
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Photoluminescence


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