Quantitative determination of iron oxidation states in minerals using Fe L 2,3 -edge electron energy-loss near-edge structure spectroscopy
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The Fe L2,3-edge spectra for a range of natural minerals and synthetic solid solutions have been measured using the technique of parallel electron energy-loss spectroscopy (PEELS) recorded in a transmission electron microscope (TEM). The Fe L 2,3 -edges of the minerals are characterised by two white-line features and exhibit electron energy-loss near-edge structure (ELNES) characteristic of Fe valence state. For divalent iron, the Fe L 3 -edge spectra are dominated by a sharp peak (white-line) at ca. 707.8 eV, followed by a broader and less intense peak at ca. 710.5 eV. The ELNES on the Fe L 3 -edge of trivalent iron consists of a white-line with its maximum at ca. 709.5 eV and a preceeding peak at ca. 708.0 eV. Mineral solid solutions that contain both Fe2+ and Fe3+ exhibit an Fe L 3 -edge shape that is composed of Fe L 3 -edges from the respective Fe2+- and Fe3+-bearing end members. The integral Fe L 2,3 -edge white-line intensity ratios I(L 3 )/I(L 2 ) show clear differences for Fe2+ and Fe3+. We demonstrate the feasibility of quantification of the ferrous/ferric ratio in minerals by determining the integral Fe L 2,3 -edge white-line intensity ratios I(L 3 )/I(L 2 ) as a function of the ferric iron concentration resulting in an universal curve within the experimental errors. The application of the universal curve combined with the high spatial resolution using the PEELS/TEM allows the quantification of the ferric iron concentration on a scale down to 10 nm, which is illustrated from a sample of ilmenite containing hematite exsolution lamellae that shows different Fe L 2,3 -edge shapes consistent with variations in the Fe2+-Fe3+ ratio over distances of ca. 100 nm.
KeywordsHematite Ilmenite Ferric Iron Trivalent Iron Universal Curve
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