Zircon crystals have been picked to put into an epoxy mount! The photo on the left shows the selected zircon crystals in a petri dish of ethanol. This reduces the static and helps see the high relief of zircon which can give the crystals a little bit of glare. Notice that they are kind of orange-brown and have a variety of shapes and sizes. Mostly they are cute doubly-terminated squat crystals (for this sample).
The grains to be analyzed are picked with a pair of tweezers and transferred to a piece of glass covered with double sided tape using either a pipette, tweezers, or tape. That’s what you’re seeing in the photo on the right, on yellow tape. The zircon grains are then lined up in double rows using tweezers again. Notice the scale of the zircon in comparison to the tweezers in the photo – they’re so small! The circle on the yellow tape is a 1 cm ring. These mounts can be made with multiple samples, each in their own double row, as shown in the third photo. They are sorted by size so that all of the zircon grains that are the same size go onto the same mount, which is important for the polishing step.
Once all of our samples are in the double rows within the 1-cm ring, epoxy is mixed to set the grains in place. After the epoxy cures, the double-sided tape pulls right off! It requires good hand-eye coordination, and a lot of patience!