Sodium phosphate crystals, SEM

Sodium phosphate crystals, SEM

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Credit: STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Sodium phosphate crystals, coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM). Crystalline materials form regular lattices that result in geometric shapes such as the shape seen here. Sodium phosphate crystals contain both sodium (Na) and phosphate (PO4) ions. The precise ratio varies according to the crystal structure. Sodium phosphates have many applications, such as their use as water softeners in detergents. In foods, they are used as emulsifiers, as thickening agents, and as leavening agents. In medicine they are used to treat constipation. They are also used in products designed to counter rust. Magnification: x3500 when printed 10 centimetres wide.

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