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Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2007 Jan 7;9(1):110-6. Epub 2006 Nov 6.

Compositional analysis of copper-silica precipitation tubes.

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Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL 32306-4390, USA.


Silica gardens consist of hollow tubular structures that form from salt crystals seeded into silicate solution. We investigate the structure and elemental composition of these tubes in the context of a recently developed experimental model that allows quantitative analyses based on predetermined reactant concentrations and flow rates. In these experiments, cupric sulfate solution is injected into large volumes of waterglass. The walls of the resulting tubular structures have a typical width of 10 microm and are gradient materials. Micro-Raman spectroscopy along with energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence data identify amorphous silica and copper(ii) hydroxide as the main compounds within the inner and outer tube surfaces, respectively. Upon heating the blueish precipitates to approximately 150 degrees C, the material turns black as copper(ii) hydroxide decomposes to copper(ii) oxide. Moreover, we present high resolution transmission electron micrographs that reveal polycrystalline morphologies.

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