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J Colloid Interface Sci. 2012 Dec 1;387(1):24-38. doi: 10.1016/j.jcis.2012.06.092. Epub 2012 Aug 10.

Synthesis and properties of titanomagnetite (Fe(3-x)Ti(x)O4) nanoparticles: a tunable solid-state Fe(II/III) redox system.

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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA 99352, USA.


Titanomagnetite (Fe(3-x)Ti(x)O(4)) nanoparticles were synthesized by room temperature aqueous precipitation, in which Ti(IV) replaces Fe(III) and is charge compensated by conversion of Fe(III) to Fe(II) in the unit cell. A comprehensive suite of tools was used to probe composition, structure, and magnetic properties down to site-occupancy level, emphasizing distribution and accessibility of Fe(II) as a function of x. Synthesis of nanoparticles in the range 0≤x≤0.6 was attempted; Ti, total Fe and Fe(II) content were verified by chemical analysis. TEM indicated homogeneous spherical 9-12 nm particles. μ-XRD and Mössbauer spectroscopy on anoxic aqueous suspensions verified the inverse spinel structure and Ti(IV) incorporation in the unit cell up to x≤0.38, based on Fe(II)/Fe(III) ratio deduced from the unit cell edge and Mössbauer spectra. Nanoparticles with a higher value of x possessed a minor amorphous secondary Fe(II)/Ti(IV) phase. XANES/EXAFS indicated Ti(IV) incorporation in the octahedral sublattice (B-site) and proportional increases in Fe(II)/Fe(III) ratio. XA/XMCD indicated that increases arise from increasing B-site Fe(II), and that these charge-balancing equivalents segregate to those B-sites near particle surfaces. Dissolution studies showed that this segregation persists after release of Fe(II) into solution, in amounts systematically proportional to x and thus the Fe(II)/Fe(III) ratio. A mechanistic reaction model was developed entailing mobile B-site Fe(II) supplying a highly interactive surface phase that undergoes interfacial electron transfer with oxidants in solution, sustained by outward Fe(II) migration from particle interiors and concurrent inward migration of charge-balancing cationic vacancies in a ratio of 3:1.

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