Issue Date: June 29, 2015
Iron Oxides Exhibit Greater Complexity
Researchers have synthesized a new iron oxide, Fe5O6, adding to evidence that the two most abundant elements on Earth form a complex chemical system that has been previously unrecognized (Sci. Adv. 2015, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400260). Iron oxides play a major role in the redox chemistry of rocks, particularly deep in the interior of Earth, and possibly other planets. Until recently, scientists believed iron oxides came in three forms: FeO, Fe2O3, and Fe3O4. In 2011, Barbara Lavina at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and Yue Meng at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, Argonne, Ill., upended that belief with their synthesis of Fe4O5 (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2011, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1107573108). Lavina and Meng have now identified Fe5O6 from mixtures of iron and hematite, which they heated and pressurized in the laboratory. “Fe5O6 and Fe4O5 are plausible new players in Earth’s mantle redox equilibria,” the authors note.
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