Research ArticleGEOPHYSICS

Unraveling the complexity of iron oxides at high pressure and temperature: Synthesis of Fe5O6

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Science Advances  26 Jun 2015:
Vol. 1, no. 5, e1400260
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400260


The iron-oxygen system is the most important reference of rocks’ redox state. Even as minor components, iron oxides can play a critical role in redox equilibria, which affect the speciation of the fluid phases chemical differentiation, melting, and physical properties. Until our recent finding of Fe4O5, iron oxides were assumed to comprise only the polymorphs of FeO, Fe3O4, and Fe2O3. Combining synthesis at high pressure and temperature with microdiffraction mapping, we have identified yet another distinct iron oxide, Fe5O6. The new compound, which has an orthorhombic structure, was obtained in the pressure range from 10 to 20 GPa upon laser heating mixtures of iron and hematite at ~2000 K, and is recoverable to ambient conditions. The high-pressure orthorhombic iron oxides Fe5O6, Fe4O5, and h-Fe3O4 display similar iron coordination geometries and structural arrangements, and indeed exhibit coherent systematic behavior of crystallographic parameters and compressibility. Fe5O6, along with FeO and Fe4O5, is a candidate key minor phase of planetary interiors; as such, it is of major petrological and geochemical importance. We are revealing an unforeseen complexity in the Fe-O system with four different compounds—FeO, Fe5O6, Fe4O5, and h-Fe3O4—in a narrow compositional range (0.75 < Fe/O < 1.0). New, finely spaced oxygen buffers at conditions of the Earth’s mantle can be defined.

  • iron oxide
  • mantle phases
  • high-pressure
  • redox equilibria
  • planetary interiors
  • extreme conditions synthesis
  • microdiffraction

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