Mineral and Materials Characterization Facility
The Mineral and Materials Characterization (MMC) Facility comprises several research laboratories within the Center for Mineral Resources Science and the Department of Geology and Geological Engineering that are dedicated to mineral and material characterization and analytical application developments. The facility serves the Mines community, researchers from state or federal research agencies, and members from the minerals, materials, energy, and environmental industries.
Research in the MMC Facility focuses on a wide range of geoscience applications, ranging from fundamental geology and planetary sciences to energy research and environmental studies. Particular emphasis is placed on the mineral lifecycle, which includes research benefiting early-stage exploration, through mining, and remediation efforts such as the recycling of tailings materials. Microanalytical research is integrated with field work and cutting-edge data analysis techniques such as machine learning. Ongoing research projects focus on magmatic and hydrothermal systems, with an emphasis on the formation, distribution, and residence of Co, Ge, the REEs, and other critical elements. Research is conducted on several different deposit types with case studies being performed on systems of different geological ages.
The MMC Facility has been established in 2012 as a state-of-the-art analytical facility at Mines. In 2015, a partnership with Tescan was established, allowing the lab to acquire a field emission-scanning electron microscope and an automated mineralogy system. Both instruments are used for student teaching and research. Since 2015, the MMC Facility has offered research experience opportunities for four undergraduate students and provided hands-on training for ~150 undergraduate and ~250 graduate students as part of their course work at Mines. In addition, ~220 graduate students have been trained in the use of state-of-the-art analytical techniques outside their regularly scheduled course work.
The MMC Facility is currently undergoing rapid expansion. In 2019, a partnership was established with Bruker, one of the world’s premier instrumentation manufacturers, allowing the establishment of a demo and applications development laboratory. Over the past years, the MMC Facility has also been working closely with the U.S. Geological Survey in Lakewood in anticipation of the move of this federal agency and its laboratories on campus. In late 2020, the MMC Facility hired Kelsey Livingston to support day-to-day operations, allowing establishment of a range of new analytical services for internal and external customers. Interested students are encouraged to inquire regarding research and internship opportunities at the MMC Facility.