Spectrocopic Investigations of Iron Rich Clays




Spectroscopic Investigations of Fe2+ Complexation on Nontronite Clay


Rose B. Merola, Eric D. Fournier, Molly M. McGuire


Diffuse reflectance (visible) and attenuated total internal reflection Fourier-transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopies were used to examine a colloidal nontronite clay in the presence of Fe2+(aq). pH-dependent changes are observed in both types of spectra. In the visible region, a broad feature at ∼750 nm appears as the pH is raised to circumneutral values. This absorbance band overlaps with a portion of the spectrum of the chemically reduced clay which is dominated by an intervalence charge-transfer transition between Fe2+ and Fe3+ within the mineral structure. The similarities between these spectra suggest that Fe2+(aq) adsorbs to the clay in such a way that it can undergo charge transfer with structural Fe3+ within the clay. ATR-FTIR spectra at pH 5−8 reveal a transformation in the Si−O stretching region between pH 6 and pH 7 with a shift of the component peaks to lower frequency. Taken together, these spectroscopic studies indicate that Fe2+ forms an inner-sphere complex with the clay at higher pH values. The pH threshold for these observed changes in physical and electronic structure is in good agreement with the point of zero charge (pzc) of the hydroxyl groups on the edge surfaces of the clay, suggesting that complexation of Fe2+ to deprotonated edge sites leads to the observed spectroscopic features.