Properties of impurity-bearing ferrihydrite III. Effects of Si on the structure of 2-line ferrihydrite

TitleProperties of impurity-bearing ferrihydrite III. Effects of Si on the structure of 2-line ferrihydrite
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsCismasu, CA, Michel, MF, Tcaciuc, PA, Brown, Jr, GE
JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
Pagination168 - 185
Date Published05/2014

Siliceous ferrihydrites are abundant nanoparticles in natural environments. Although it is well known that the physical properties of ferrihydrite are affected when formed in the presence of silicate oxoanions (SiO44−), the structure of siliceous ferrihydrites (SiFh), and the speciation of Si within these nanosolids are not well understood. In this study we evaluate the effects of Si (at concentrations ranging from 5 to 40 mol% Si) on synthetic ferrihydrite precipitates using structural data derived from synchrotron-based high energy X-ray scattering and pair distribution function (PDF) analysis, in combination with X-ray absorption near edge structure (XANES) spectroscopy, and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Silicate oxoanions have a major effect on Fe(O,OH)x polyhedral polymerization and ferrihydrite particle growth, illustrated by the formation of smaller, poorly crystalline, structurally disordered/strained ferrihydrite nanocrystallites. Variation in Fh unit-cell parameters is suggested to arise from substantial particle size-induced structural disorder. As a result of this significant size-dependent structural disorder, it was not possible to identify evidence for Si4+ for Fe3+ substitution in these samples based on unit cell parameter variations or refinement of different structural models. Principal component analyses (PCA) and linear combination fits carried out on the PDFs suggest that iron partitions between several phases (e.g., ferrihydrite and an Fe-bearing amorphous silica phase (Amorph. SiO2 + Fe)) in these co-precipitates. A mechanism of co-precipitation is proposed, in which silicate binds to Fe polymers and Fh particles, thus inhibiting particle growth at low Si content. At higher Si content, SiO44− polymerization traps significant Fe, and we suggest that the occurrence of this second Fe pool limits further the availability of Fe required for ferrihydrite particle development. Such Si-ferrihydrite co-precipitates are expected to be more stable in natural environments with respect to reductive dissolution or transformation, and to impact the bioavailability of Fe(III).

Short TitleGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta