Molecular-scale imaging of clay mineral surfaces with the atomic force microscope

H. Hartman, G. Sposito, A. Yang, S. Manne, S. A.C. Gould, P. K. Hansma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Specimen samples of Crook County montmorillonite and Silver Hill illite, purified and prepared in the Na-form, were imaged under 80% relative humidity using an atomic force microscope. The direct images showed clearly the hexagonal array of hexagonal rings of oxygen ions expected for the basal planes of 2:1 phyllosilicates. Fourier transformation of the digital information obtained by the microscope scanning tip led to an estimate of 5.1 ± 0.3 Å for the nearest-neighbor separation, in agreement with the ideal nearest-neighbor spacing of 5.4 Å for hexagonal rings as derived from X-ray powder diffraction data. The atomic force microscope should prove to be a useful tool for the molecular-scale resolution of clay mineral surfaces that contain adsorbed macromolecules. -Authors

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)337-342
Number of pages6
JournalClays & Clay Minerals
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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