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.
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.
Jared Sagoff | EurekAlert!
Climate Impact Research in Hannover: Small Plants against Large Waves
17.08.2018 | Leibniz Universität Hannover
First transcription atlas of all wheat genes expands prospects for research and cultivation
17.08.2018 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung
New design tool automatically creates nanostructure 3D-print templates for user-given colors
Scientists present work at prestigious SIGGRAPH conference
Most of the objects we see are colored by pigments, but using pigments has disadvantages: such colors can fade, industrial pigments are often toxic, and...
Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles present new research on a curious cosmic phenomenon known as "whistlers" -- very low frequency packets...
Scientists develop first tool to use machine learning methods to compute flow around interactively designable 3D objects. Tool will be presented at this year’s prestigious SIGGRAPH conference.
When engineers or designers want to test the aerodynamic properties of the newly designed shape of a car, airplane, or other object, they would normally model...
Researchers from TU Graz and their industry partners have unveiled a world first: the prototype of a robot-controlled, high-speed combined charging system (CCS) for electric vehicles that enables series charging of cars in various parking positions.
Global demand for electric vehicles is forecast to rise sharply: by 2025, the number of new vehicle registrations is expected to reach 25 million per year....
Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
Actin is the most abundant protein in highly developed cells and has diverse functions in processes like cell stabilization, cell division and muscle...
17.08.2018 | Event News
08.08.2018 | Event News
27.07.2018 | Event News
17.08.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
17.08.2018 | Information Technology
17.08.2018 | Life Sciences