Valleriite, a Natural Two-Dimensional Composite: X-ray Absorption, Photoelectron, and Mossbauer Spectroscopy, and Magnetic Characterization

Mikhlin, Yuri L.; Likhatski, Maxim N.; Bayukov, Oleg A.; Knyazev, Yuriy; Velikanov, Dmitriy A.; et al. Acs Omega.

Valleriite is of interest as a mineral source of basic and precious metals and as an unusual material composed of two-dimensional (2D) Fe–Cu sulfide and magnesium hydroxide layers, whose characteristics are still very poorly understood. Here, the mineral samples of two types with about 50% of valleriites from Noril’sk ore provenance, Russia, were examined using Cu K- and Fe K-edge X-ray absorption fine structure (XAFS) spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), 57Fe Mössbauer spectroscopy, and magnetic measurements. The Cu K X-ray absorption near-edge structures (XANES) spectra resemble those of chalcopyrite, however, with a higher electron density at Cu+ centers and essentially differ from those of bornite Cu5FeS4; the Fe K-edge was less informative because of accompanying oxidized Fe-containing phases. The post-edge XANES and extended XAFS (EXAFS) analysis reveal differences in the bond lengths, e.g., additional metal–metal distances in valleriites as compared with chalcopyrite. The XPS spectra confirmed the Cu+ and Fe3+ state in the sulfide sheets and suggest that they are in electron equilibrium with (Mg, Al) hydroxide layers. Mössbauer spectra measured at room temperature comprise central doublets of paramagnetic Fe3+, which decreased at 78 K and almost disappeared at 4.2 K, producing a series of hyperfine Zeeman sextets due to internal magnetic fields arising in valleriites. Magnetic measurements do not reveal antiferromagnetic transitions known for bornite. The specific structure and properties of valleriite are discussed in particular as a platform for composites of the 2D transition metal sulfide and hydroxide (mono)layers stacked by the electrical charges, promising for a variety of applications.