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Exchange of bismuth atoms for chloride ions with retention of structure

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Posted March 4, 2014
Exchange of bismuth atoms for chloride ions with retention of structure
Credit: Angewandte Chemie
Modern technology makes extensive use of ion exchangers. For example, they are commonly used to decalcify water by binding calcium ions and releasing sodium ions in return. Good exchangers tend to be materials with high surface areas, such as resins, zeolites, or clays. German scientists have now demonstrated that the compact, crystalline structures of intermetallic compounds, in which the diffusion pathways for efficient materials transport are actually absent, can also exchange ions. In the journalAngewandte Chemie, they report the full replacement of the chloride ions in Bi12Rh3Cl2crystals by bismuth atoms.

The team working with Michael Ruck at the Technical University of Dresden noticed this unexpected phenomenon while researching bismuth subhalides. Subhalides are compounds that have fewer halogen ions than pure ionic metal halides. This results in regions that contain direct bonds between metal atoms. Subhalides with bismuth and rhodium are known to have intermetallic substructures that range from clusters to three-dimensional networks. Bi12Rh3Cl2 contains intermetallic networks consisting of edge-sharing [RhBi8] cubes and antiprisms.

The researchers planned to “pull” the halogen atoms out without destroying the intermetallic regions under gentle conditions using an n-butyllithium solution. The chloride ions were extracted just as the scientists hoped, even though they seemed to be tightly enclosed by the narrow channels of the intermetallic network

Read more at: Phys.org

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