Partners under Pressure: Carbon Dioxide and Silica

A recent study shows that a silicon carbonate phase can form from carbon dioxide and silica under pressure.

Figure 1Under ambient conditions, CO2 and SiO2 are thermodynamically stable and do not react.  Therefore, a natural question is whether or not chemical compounds containing both CO2 and SiO2 are possible under any conditions.  A recent study has answered this longstanding question with the discovery that a silicon carbonate phase can form from carbon dioxide and silica under pressure [1].  The new high-pressure oxide chemistry exemplified by this finding has potential applications in material science, planetary science, and CO2 storage.

In the recent work, dense carbon dioxide fills the micro-pores of silicalite, a pure SiO2 zeolitic material, at high pressure. All the SiO4 tetrahedra are on the surface of the micropores and consequently in contact with the CO2. The large effective interaction area between the two materials greatly favors the chemical reaction between them. This silicon carbonate phase is obtained when the system is compressed to 18 to 20 GPa and heated at 600 to 700 K. The unique material can be temperature quenched and was characterized by optical spectroscopy and synchotron x-ray diffraction.  The structure of this new compound reflects that of the original silicalite crystal, although it is affected by stoichiometric and spatial disorder.

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