Size Effects in MgO Cube Dissolution
Journal article, 2015
Stability parameters and dissolution behavior of engineered nanomaterials in aqueous systems are critical to assess their functionality and fate under environmental conditions. Using scanning electron microscopy, transmission electron microscopy, and X-ray diffraction, we investigated the stability of cubic MgO particles in water. MgO dissolution proceeding via water dissociation at the oxide surface, disintegration of Mg2+-O2- surface elements, and their subsequent solvation ultimately leads to precipitation of Mg(OH)(2) nanosheets. At a pH >= 10, MgO nanocubes with a size distribution below 10 nm quantitatively dissolve within few minutes and convert into Mg(OH)(2) nanosheets. This effect is different from MgO cubes originating from magnesium combustion in air. With a size distribution in the range 10 nm <= d <= 1000 nm they dissolve with a significantly smaller dissolution rate in water. On these particles water induced etching generates (110) faces which, above a certain face area, dissolve at a rate equal to that of (100) planes.(1) The delayed solubility of microcrystalline MgO is attributed to surface hydroxide induced self-inhibition effects occurring at the (100) and (110) microplanes. The present work underlines the importance of morphology evolution and surface faceting of engineered nanomaterials particles during their dissolution.