DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DENNIS KUNKEL MICROSCOPY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of Expanded vermiculite pellet. Vermiculite is a natural mineral that expands with the application of heat. Vermiculite (also known as Mica or Mica fill) is used for insulating, soil conditioning and packing materials. It consists of expanded mica that has a highly laminated structure. Mica is a mineral composed of aluminium silicate along with sodium, magnesium and potassium silicates. Its salient characteristic is its perfect basal cleavage, which means that it can be separated into very thin laminae (layers). It is non-flammable, and because the expansion process introduces air between the layers it is lightweight, and a good insulator. Vermiculite is mined in the United States and South Africa. Magnification: x120 when shortest axis printed at 25 millimetres.
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