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Carbonate mineral nucleation pathways

Abstract : Precipitation and dissolution of calcium carbonate (CaCO3) are key processes in both natural and engineered systems due to their intimate association with the Earth’s carbon cycle. Precipitation usually occurs on foreign substrates since they lower the energetic barriers controlling nucleation events. This so-called heterogeneous nucleation results from the interplay between the fluid supersaturation and the interfacial free energies present at the substrate-nucleus-fluid interfaces. Despite the relevance of interfacial energies for the fate of heterogeneous nucleation, the current literature remains scarce in their absolute values, which limits the accuracy of reactive transport modelling. Of particular relevance to the carbon cycle, the formation of biominerals accounts for a major reservoir of the carbonate minerals in the lithosphere. Recent studies have revealed the existence of multistep nucleation pathways that involve formation of amorphous calcium carbonate (ACC), a metastable intermediate during the early stages of biomineral formation. Such amorphous precursors allow molding of the intricate shapes of biominerals, while their stability and crystallization kinetics are effectively controlled by multiple factors. Elucidating the underlying mechanisms is beneficial for the development of biomimetic materials.The first goal of this dissertation is to develop a predictive understanding of interfacial energy values governing CaCO3 heterogeneous nucleation as a function of specific physico-chemical properties of the substrates, such as hydrophobicity. This last was investigated using phlogopite, a common mica, with and without fluorine substitution yielding hydrophobic and hydrophilic substrates. In situ time-resolved Grazing-Incidence Small Angle X-ray Scattering experiments were performed to obtain effective interfacial energy values. Interestingly, the extracted values for both substrates were similar, and thermodynamically these substrates provide a good template for nucleation, but the pathways differ. By ex situ Atomic Force Microscopy characterization, the hydrophilic substrate was shown to promote the formation and stabilization of ACC, whereas the hydrophobic one favored the formation of calcite. These results point to the intrinsic structural flexibility of CaCO3 and its advantage in heterogeneous nucleation processes.The second goal is to provide an atomistic description of the substrate hydrophobicity/hydrophilicity. Water adsorption on phlogopite was studied in situ using Near-Ambient Pressure X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy to investigate the effect of fluorine substitution and the influence of different types of counterions (K+, Na+ vs. Cs+). The results of the spectroscopy experiments were further interpreted using molecular dynamics simulations and bond-valence theory. The combination of these techniques shows that the substrate hydrophobicity stems from a competition between two factors: hydration of counterions vs. that of substrate.The final goal is to study the molecular mechanisms by which Mg2+, a common impurity in biogenic amorphous precursors, increases the kinetic persistence of ACC. Inelastic Incoherent Neutron Scattering and X-ray Photon Correlation Spectroscopy were combined to elucidate the nanoscale dynamics of water and ions within ACC. The presence of Mg2+ was shown to enhance the atomic diffusion within the solid while simultaneously increasing the stiffness of the hydrogen bond network. These counter-intuitive results are addressed by considering the different factors included in the pre-exponential term of the nucleation rate equation within the framework of the classical nucleation theory. Overall, the results point to the importance of water as a kinetic stabilizer, and to the existence of steric barriers that lower the crystallization rate.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 12:58:08 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, October 6, 2020 - 8:44:02 AM
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  • HAL Id : tel-01701947, version 1



Ayumi Koishi. Carbonate mineral nucleation pathways. Chemical Physics [physics.chem-ph]. Université Grenoble Alpes, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017GREAU032⟩. ⟨tel-01701947⟩



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