Abstract: The transformation of ferrihydrite to goethite and hematite in the pH range 9–13 is retarded by the presence of simple sugars (≥ 10−4 M concentration). The retarding effect is related to the extent of adsorption of the sugar on ferrihydrite. Maltose and glucose adsorb strongly and inhibit the transformation by preventing both aggregation and dissolution of the ferrihydrite. Sucrose adsorbs to a much lesser extent than the other sugars and appears to hinder the nucleation and growth of goethite in solution.
Hematite formation relative to that of goethite is favored by the sugars in the order: maltose > glucose ≫ sucrose. Maltose and glucose cause hematite to grow as prismatic crystals rather than as hexagonal plates and also lead to a new type of twinned goethite; one with epitaxial outgrowths of goethite on a prismatic crystal of hematite. In alkaline media glucose and maltose are partly transformed into a mixture of different sugars and hydroxycarboxylic acids, and it is probable that modification of the hematite crystal shape is due to the presence of the degradation products rather than to the nature of the original sugar.
The results of this work suggest that cyclic molecules influence the transformation of ferrihydrite to a lesser extent than do acyclic molecules.