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January-February 2018

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Who's Who in Mineral Names: Max von Laue and the Discovery of X-ray Diffraction by Crystals (1879–1960)

Laueite, Mn2+Fe23+(PO4)2(OH)2·8H2O, is a common late-stage hydrothermal phosphate mineral found in oxidized triphylite-bearing complex granite pegmatites (Anthony et al. 2000). The mineral was named for Max Theodor Felix von Laue (1879–1960) in 1954 by Hugo Strunz (1910–2006), then professor of mineralogy at the Technical University of Berlin, Germany. Strunz honored the physicist von Laue for his 1912 groundbreaking discovery of X-ray diffraction by crystals that laid the foundation for many future discoveries in X-ray diffraction analysis (Strunz 1954; Fleischer 1954).

Laueite was discovered in a phosphate pegmatite that was mined near the town of Hagendorf, Waidhaus, Upper Palatinate, Bavaria, Germany. Laueite crystals are as large as 3 mm and have triclinic symmetry, with a perfect cleavage on {010}, a Mohs hardness of 3, and irregular, uneven to subconchoidal fracture. The crystals are transparent to translucent, with a honey-brown, amber, yellow, dark yellow, yellow-orange, or reddish-orange color and a vitreous luster.


Dr. Günther Neumeier is a consulting editor of Rocks & Minerals.

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