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Using Terahertz Waves to Identify the Presence of Goethite via Antiferromagnetic Resonance


Virtually every corrosion detection method reports only the presence of a material phase that denotes probable corrosion, not its spectral signature. A signature specific to the type of iron oxide corrosion product would not only confirm the presence of corrosion but also provide insight into the environment of its formation. To identify the unique spectral signature of a commonly occurring corrosion product, goethite (α-FeOOH), we performed high-resolution terahertz (THz) absorption loss measurements on a polycrystalline mineral sample of goethite, scanning from 0.045 to 1.5 THz. We report two distinct temperature-dependent absorption peaks that extend from 4.2 to 425 K. By combining X-ray diffraction and magnetic characterization on this large crystallite-sized goethite sample, we derived a Neél transition temperature of 435 K, below which the sample is antiferromagnetic. We interpret these absorption peaks as magnon transitions of the antiferromagnetic resonances, allowing precise identification of goethite, a common iron corrosion product and geological mineral, via two terahertz absorption peaks over this temperature range. This measurement technique has the potential for detecting iron-bearing oxides originating from corrosion occurring underneath layers of polymeric products and other protective coatings that can be easily penetrated by electromagnetic waves with frequencies on the order of 1 THz. Furthermore, the combined X-ray and magnetic characterization of this sample, which had a large crystallite size, also improved the previously established relationship between the Néel transition temperature and the inverse mean crystallite dimension in the [111] direction. Our results provide end-case peaks which, compared with goethite samples of smaller crystallite size and purity, will enable the extension of this non-destructive evaluation technique to real corrosion applications.

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S. G. C. gratefully acknowledges useful discussions with J. R. Simpson. This article reflects the views of the author and should not be construed to represent FDA’s views or policies. The work was supported by the NIST Innovations in Measurement Science research program entitled “Detection of Corrosion in Steel-Reinforced Concrete by Antiferromagnetic Resonance”. All the authors would like to pay tribute to William Egelhoff (deceased) who was the originator of the idea of using AFMR detection of certain iron corrosion products as a means of detecting early corrosion of steel under protective layers.

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Correspondence to E. J. Garboczi.

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Chou, S.G., Stutzman, P.E., Provenzano, V. et al. Using Terahertz Waves to Identify the Presence of Goethite via Antiferromagnetic Resonance. Appl Magn Reson 48, 559–569 (2017).

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  • Hematite
  • Corrosion Product
  • Goethite
  • Zone Edge
  • Large Crystallite Size