Iron Oxides Exhibit Greater Complexity | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 93 Issue 26 | p. 23 | Concentrates
Issue Date: June 29, 2015

Iron Oxides Exhibit Greater Complexity

Geochemistry: Redox chemistry in Earth’s interior may be more complex than thought
Department: Science & Technology
News Channels: Materials SCENE, Analytical SCENE
Keywords: iron oxide, Earth’s mantle, crystal
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A newly synthesized iron oxide, Fe5O6, may be a player in Earth’s interior chemistry.
Credit: Sci. Adv.
Crystallographic structure of Fe5O6.
 
A newly synthesized iron oxide, Fe5O6, may be a player in Earth’s interior chemistry.
Credit: Sci. Adv.

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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