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Rust Never Sleeps: Electron Hopping

Source: LBNL TABL, Dan Hawkes

Iron oxide (rust) is a poor electrical conductor, but electrons in iron oxide can use thermal energy to hop from one iron atom to another. A Berkeley Lab experiment has now revealed exactly what happens to electrons after being transferred to an iron oxide particle. (Image courtesy of Benjamin Gilbert, Berkeley Lab)
In work at the Advanced Photon Source (Argonne National Laboratory, Chicago), Ben Gilbert of the Earth Sciences Division recently led a group of scientists (including ESD’s Glenn Waychunas, and ex-ESD’ers Jordan Katz and Cathrine Frandsen) in an experiment resulting in the first direct observations of electron hopping in iron oxide (i.e., rust) particles. This phenomenon holds huge significance for a broad range of environment- and energy-related applications.


For more information, go to the LBNL News Center

Citation: Katz, J.E., X. Zhang, K. Attenkofer, K.W. Chapman, C. Frandsen, P. Zarzycki, K.M. Rosso, R.W. Falcone, G.A. Waychunas, and B. Gilbert (2012), Electron small polarons and their mobility in iron (oxyhydr)oxide nanoparticles. Science (in press).