STEVE GSCHMEISSNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY STEVE GSCHMEISSNER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Sodium phosphate crystals. Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM). Crystalline materials have their atoms placed in regular lattices that can form geometric shapes like this. Sodium phosphate crystals contain both sodium (Na) and phosphate (PO4) ions, but the precise ratio varies according to the crystal structure. Sodium phosphates have many applications in food and for water treatment. For example, sodium phosphates are often used as emulsifiers as in processed cheese, thickening agents, and leavening agents for baked goods. They are also used to control pH of processed foods. They are also used in medicine for constipation and to prepare the bowel for medical procedures. Moreover, they are used in detergents for softening water, and as an efficient anti rust solution. Magnification: x7000 when printed 10 centimetres wide.
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