Interfacial Water Structure in Montmorillonite from Neutron Diffraction Experiments

R. H. Hawkins and P. A. Egelstaff
Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, 2464 Sheffield Road Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0E4, Canada
Department of Physics, University of Guelph Guelph, Ontario N1G 2W1, Canada

Abstract: Neutron diffraction measurements for a preferentially oriented aggregate slab sample of deuterated Na-montmorillonite from Upton, Wyoming, are described for a series of clay-water contents ranging from 0 to 500 mg/g. A neutron wavelength of 2.39 Å was used with extended detectors to collect much of the “out of plane” component of the diffraction peak intensities.

The diffraction pattern intensities from the 00ℓ planes of the clay, corresponding to a reflection geometry, are a strong function of sample water content and show a variation in basal spacing from 9.8 to 19.0 Å. The hk reflections from transmission geometry measurements show, however, that the lattice a and b axes are constant within experimental uncertainty (0.02 Å) over the range in water content and their intensities vary only by a few percent. In this geometry, a broad, water-like diffraction pattern was noted as a background under the usual hk peak intensity series. This underlying water-like pattern varies in proportion to the sample water content.

Data reduction steps included consideration of background removal, multiple scattering, flux normalization, and attenuation of scattering due to sample thickness. Analysis of the reduced data revealed that the clay-water has a “liquid-like” ordering, with a density increase of approximately 5% over bulk water. An association between a few interlayer water molecules and the silicate superstructure is indicated by the slight change in the hk band intensities, but this change seems to be complete at water contents below 100 mg/g. Fourier analysis of the basal peak series from the dry clay shows that the hydrogens of the lattice hydroxyl groups lie in the same basal plane as their associated oxygen atoms.

Key Words: Clay-water system • Hydroxyl orientation • Interlayer water • Montmorillonite • Neutron diffraction

Clays and Clay Minerals; February 1980 v. 28; no. 1; p. 19-28; DOI: 10.1346/CCMN.1980.0280103
© 1980, The Clay Minerals Society
Clay Minerals Society (www.clays.org)