AbstractIron-based redox active minerals are ubiquitous in soils, sediments, and aquatic systems. Their dissolution is of great importance for microbial impacts on carbon cycling and the biogeochemistry of the lithosphere and hydrosphere. Despite its widespread significance and extensive prior study, the atomic-to-nanoscale mechanisms of dissolution remain poorly understood, particularly the interplay between acidic and reductive processes. Here we use in situ liquid phase transmission electron microscopy (LP-TEM) and simulations of radiolysis to probe and control acidic versus reductive dissolution of akaganeite (ß–FeOOH) nanorods. Informed by crystal structure and surface chemistry, the balance between acidic dissolution at rod tips and reductive dissolution at rod sides was systematically varied using pH buffers, background chloride anions, and electron beam dose. We find that buffers, such as bis-tris, effectively inhibited dissolution by consuming radiolytic acidic and reducing species such as superoxides and aqueous electrons. In contrast, chloride anions simultaneously suppressed dissolution at rod tips by stabilizing structural elements while promoting dissolution at rod sides through surface complexation. Dissolution morphologies were systematically varied by shifting the balance between acidic and reductive attack. The findings show LP-TEM combined with simulations of radiolysis effects can provide a novel and versatile platform for quantitatively investigating dissolution mechanisms, with implications for understanding metal cycling in natural environments and the development of tailored nanomaterials.
Published: August 24, 2023