Wide angle X-ray scattering (WAXS) measurements have been made on a suite of "two-line" ferrihydrite (FHY2) samples containing varying amounts of coprecipitated arsenate. Samples prepared at pH 8 with counter ions chloride, nitrate, and a mixture of both also were examined. The raw WAXS scattering functions show that "two-line" ferrihydrite actually has a large number of non-Bragg (i.e., diffuse scattering) maxima up to our observation limit of 16 A??-1. The type of counter ion used during synthesis produces no significant change in this function. In unarsenated samples, Radial Distribution Functions (RDFs) produced from the scattering functions show a well-defined Fe-O peak at 2.02 A?? in excellent agreement with the mean distance of 2.01 A?? from extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) analysis. The area under the Fe-O peak is consistent with only octahedral oxygen coordination about iron, and an iron coordination about oxygen of 2.2, in agreement with the EXAFS results, the sample composition, and XANES measurements. The second peak observed in the RDFs is clearly divided into two populations of correlations, at 3.07 and 3.52 A??, respectively. These distances are close to the EXAFS-derived Fe-Fe subshell distances of 3.02-3.05 and 3.43-3.46 A??, respectively, though this is misleading as the RDF peaks also include contributions from O-Fe and O-O correlations. Simulated RDFs of the FeOOH polymorphs indicate how the observed RDF structure relates to the EXAFS pair-correlation function, and allow comparisons with an ordered ferrihydrite structure. The effect of increasing arsenate content is dramatic, as the RDF peaks are progressively smeared out, indicating a wider range of interatomic distances even at moderate surface coverages, and a loss of longer range correlations. At an As/Fe ratio of 0.68, the surface saturation level of arsenate, the RDF shows little order beyond what would be expected from small pieces of dioctahedral Fe oxyhydroxyl chains or small "sheet" units. Analysis of the first RDF peak yields components due to As-O and Fe-O correlations. As the As-O component at 1.67 A?? increases in size, the Fe-O component decreases, reflecting a decrease in Fe coordination about the average oxygen. This reduction is consistent with a decrease in mean crystallite size as suggested by EXAFS studies. Analysis of the second RDF peak components shows the progressive decrease in Fe-Fe correlations, and the enhancement of As-Fe correlations, as arsenate level increases. Comparison of the experimental RDF from coprecipitated arsenate-saturated FHY2 with simulated RDFs of model iron oxyhydroxyl structures further constrains possible sizes and geometry for the precipitates, and is consistent with sorbed complexes of the bidentate binuclear (apical oxygen sharing) type.
Additional publication details
Wide angle X-ray scattering (WAXS) study of "two-line" ferrihydrite structure: Effect of arsenate sorption and counterion variation and comparison with EXAFS results