Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mica provides clue to how water transports minerals

17.07.2017

In order to understand various environmental processes and learn to better address the effects of pollution, scientists have been interested in tracking the movement of elements through the environment, particularly at interfaces between water and minerals.

In a new study from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, in collaboration with the University of Illinois and Chicago and the University of Delaware, chemists have been able to look at the interface between water and muscovite mica, a flat mineral commonly found in granite, soils and many sediments. In particular, the researchers looked at the capture and release of rubidium - a metal closely related to but more easily singled out than common elements like potassium and sodium.


Researchers at Argonne looked at the dynamics of the transport of certain elements -- especially rubidium -- at the interface between water and mica, a flat transparent mineral pictured above.

Credit: Beth Harvey/Shutterstock

Essentially, it's like looking for a goldfinch in a tree, and using a technique that only shows you where yellow things are."

In the experiment, the researchers flowed a rubidium-containing solution over the mica, which caused rubidium atoms to replace the potassium that occurs naturally near the surface of the mica.  Then the rubidium solution was replaced for one containing sodium, which in turn replaced the rubidium atoms.

According to Argonne chemist Sang Soo Lee, who led the study, the dynamics of the ion transport were largely controlled by electrostatic properties at the interface between the mica and the water. Essentially, the rubidium atoms "clung" to the mica's surface similarly to how lint clings to clothing. The strength of the clinging behavior was determined mainly by how many water molecules were in between the mica's surface and the rubidium - the fewer water molecules, the tighter the cling.

Lee and his Argonne colleague, chemist Paul Fenter, used Argonne's Advanced Photon Source, a DOE Office of Science User Facility, to observe the activity of the rubidium using a technique called resonant anomalous X-ray reflectivity. This technique allows scientists to probe the position of a single element at an interface.

"Essentially, it's like looking for a goldfinch in a tree, and using a technique that only shows you where yellow things are," Fenter said.

By using the technique, the researchers were able to condense the timeframe it takes to measure the signal from the data. "Normally these data take hours to measure, but now we can have a time resolution of one or two seconds," Fenter said.

Having a picture of the real-time dynamics of these kinds of interfaces give scientists a new view of how ions sense surfaces energetically. "If you think of our experiments like watching planes at an airport, then previously we were able to only know how many Boeings or Cessnas there were," Lee said. "Now, we have a way to watch the planes actually take off and land."

###

The research was funded by DOE's Office of Science (Office of Basic Energy Sciences). 

A paper based on the research, "Real-time observations of cation exchange kinetics and dynamics at the muscovite-water interface," was published in Nature Communications on June 9.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.

Media Contact

Jared Sagoff
jsagoff@anl.gov
630-252-5549

 @argonne

http://www.anl.gov 

Jared Sagoff | EurekAlert!

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht MicroRNA helps cancer evade immune system
19.09.2017 | Salk Institute

nachricht Ruby: Jacobs University scientists are collaborating in the development of a new type of chocolate
18.09.2017 | Jacobs University Bremen gGmbH

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

Im Focus: Silencing bacteria

HZI researchers pave the way for new agents that render hospital pathogens mute

Pathogenic bacteria are becoming resistant to common antibiotics to an ever increasing degree. One of the most difficult germs is Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a...

Im Focus: Artificial Enzymes for Hydrogen Conversion

Scientists from the MPI for Chemical Energy Conversion report in the first issue of the new journal JOULE.

Cell Press has just released the first issue of Joule, a new journal dedicated to sustainable energy research. In this issue James Birrell, Olaf Rüdiger,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

New quantum phenomena in graphene superlattices

19.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A simple additive to improve film quality

19.09.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>