Charging properties of cassiterite (α-SnO2) surfaces in NaCl and RbCl ionic media

Jörgen Rosenqvist, Michael L. Machesky, Lukas Vlcek, Peter T. Cummings, David J. Wesolowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The acid-base properties of cassiterite (α-SnO2) surfaces at 10-50 °C were studied using potentiometric titrations of powder suspensions in aqueous NaCl and RbCl media. The proton sorption isotherms exhibited common intersection points in the pH range of 4.0-4.5 under all conditions, and the magnitude of charging was similar but not identical in NaCl and RbCl. The hydrogen bonding configuration at the oxide-water interface, obtained from classical molecular dynamics (MD) simulations, was analyzed in detail, and the results were explicitly incorporated in calculations of protonation constants for the reactive surface sites using the revised MUSIC model. The calculations indicated that the terminal SnOH2 group is more acidic than the bridging Sn2OH group, with protonation constants (log KH) of 3.60 and 5.13 at 25 °C, respectively. This is contrary to the situation on the isostructural α-TiO2 (rutile), apparently because of the difference in electronegativity between Ti and Sn. MD simulations and speciation calculations indicated considerable differences in the speciation of Na+ and Rb+, despite the similarities in overall charging. Adsorbed sodium ions are almost exclusively found in bidentate surface complexes, whereas adsorbed rubidium ions form comparable numbers of bidentate and tetradentate complexes. Also, the distribution of adsorbed Na+ between the different complexes shows a considerable dependence on the surface charge density (pH), whereas the distribution of adsorbed Rb+ is almost independent of pH. A surface complexation model (SCM) capable of accurately describing both the measured surface charge and the MD-predicted speciation of adsorbed Na+/Rb+ was formulated. According to the SCM, the deprotonated terminal group (SnOH -0.40) and the protonated bridging group (Sn2OH +0.36) dominate the surface speciation over the entire pH range of this study (2.7-10). The complexation of medium cations increases significantly with increasing negative surface charge, and at pH 10, roughly 40% of the terminal sites are predicted to form cation complexes, whereas anion complexation is minor throughout the studied pH range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10852-10862
Number of pages11
Issue number18
StatePublished - Sep 15 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Surfaces and Interfaces
  • Spectroscopy
  • Electrochemistry


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