New Iron Oxide Observed

Iron oxide is something most people have heard of, it often called rust for instance. But this is just one form of iron oxide: Fe2O3. There are in fact eight different compounds all containing different ratios of iron and oxygen ranging from the 1:1 of FeO to highly unbalanced Fe25O32. All eight have there own uses from catalysts in ammonia production to being forged into steels of various makeup and other uses as demonstrated in the diagram below.

Diagram by Stan J Klimas

But now an extra oxide has to be added to the list. Scientists have managed to synthesis under pressures of 25 GPa (25×109) black crystals that when studied were revealed to be Fe7O9. This previously unobserved iron oxide now wins the record for most distorted crystal structure of them all, containing four separate local iron groups (the blocks which  when put together form the crystal structure). Currently only small samples of the crystal has been synthesised so not all the relevant chemical tests have been performed. However, this research once again gives us greater insight into how chemistry is likely to occur at these high pressures found within the Earth’s surface.


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