This article reports on studies of the chemical alterations induced by synchrotron radiation at the calcite-ethanol interface, a simple model system for interfaces between minerals and more complex organic molecules containing OH groups. A combination of X-ray reflectivity and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy of natural calcite, cleaved in distilled ethanol to obtain new clean interfaces, indicated that, during a 5 h period, the two top atomic layers of calcite, CaCO3, transform into calcium oxide, CaO, by releasing CO2. Also, the occupation of the first ordered layer of ethanol attached to calcite by hydrogen bonds almost doubles. Comparison between radiated and non-radiated areas of the same samples demonstrate that these effects are induced only by radiation and not caused by aging. These observations contribute to establishing a time limit for synchrotron experiments involving fluid-mineral interfaces where the polar OH group, as present in ethanol, plays a key role in their molecular structure and bonding. Also, the chemical evolution observed in the interface provides new insight into the behavior of some complex organic molecules involved in biomineralization processes.
Bibliographical note© 2012 International Union of Crystallography
- X-ray reflectivity
- X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy