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Characterization of smectite and illite by FTIR spectroscopy of interlayer NH4 + cations

  • J . Pironon (a1), M. Pelletier (a2), P. De Donato (a2) and R. Mosser-Ruck (a1)


FTIR spectroscopy has been applied to NH4 +-exchanged dioctahedral clay minerals to determine the molecular environment of NH4 + and to quantify N concentration. FTIR under vapourpressure control, coupled with heating and freezing treatments has shown that NH4 + ion symmetry varies with the nature of clay minerals. NH4 + has a perfect tetrahedral symmetry in hydrated or dehydrated smectites and belongs to the T d symmetry group. The NH4 +-bending vibration is centred at 1450 and 1425 cm–1.

The Si4+-Al3+ substitution in dioctahedral clay minerals induces the loss of symmetry elements of the NH4 + tetrahedron which acquires a C 2v symmetry. As a consequence, the Td –C2v transition can be used to characterize the smectite–illite transition. Quantification of NH4 + content per half unit cell is provided by n NH4 = k[NH4]/[OH] where [NH4]/[OH] is the band area ratio of the NH4 +-bending vibration to the OH-stretching vibration. k = 1.1 for hydrated smectite, 0.9 for dehydrated smectite and 0.8 for illite or tobelite. The bending vibration of NH4 + is chosen for the calculation because it is not affected by superimposed contributions.


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Characterization of smectite and illite by FTIR spectroscopy of interlayer NH4 + cations

  • J . Pironon (a1), M. Pelletier (a2), P. De Donato (a2) and R. Mosser-Ruck (a1)


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