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Nanotechnology. 2014 Aug 22;25(33):335703. Epub 2014 Jul 30.

Three-dimensional hydration layer mapping on the (10.4) surface of calcite using amplitude modulation atomic force microscopy.


Calcite, the most stable modification of calcium carbonate, is a major mineral in nature. It is, therefore, highly relevant in a broad range of fields such as biomineralization, sea water desalination and oil production. Knowledge of the surface structure and reactivity of the most stable cleavage plane, calcite (10.4), is pivotal for understanding the role of calcite in these diverse areas. Given the fact that most biological processes and technical applications take place in an aqueous environment, perhaps the most basic - yet decisive - question addresses the interaction of water molecules with the calcite (10.4) surface. In this work, amplitude modulation atomic force microscopy is used for three-dimensional (3D) mapping of the surface structure and the hydration layers above the surface. An easy-to-use scanning protocol is implemented for collecting reliable 3D data. We carefully discuss a comprehensible criterion for identifying the solid-liquid interface within our data. In our data three hydration layers form a characteristic pattern that is commensurate with the underlying calcite surface.

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