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Anions Enhance Rare Earth Adsorption at Negatively Charged Surfaces

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posted on 05.06.2020, 15:06 by Srikanth Nayak, Kaitlin Lovering, Wei Bu, Ahmet Uysal
Anions are expected to be repelled from negatively charged surfaces. At aqueous interfaces, however, ion-specific effects can dominate over direct electrostatic interactions. Using multiple in situ surface sensitive experimental techniques, we show that surface affinities of SCN anions are so strong that they can adsorb at a negatively charged floating monolayer at the air–aqueous interface. This extreme example of ion-specific effects may be very important for understanding complex processes at aqueous interfaces, such as chemical separations of rare earth metals. Adsorbed SCN ions at the floating monolayer increase the overall negative charge density, leading to enhanced trivalent rare earth adsorption. Surface sensitive X-ray fluorescence measurements show that the surface coverage of Lu3+ ions can be triple the apparent surface charge of the floating monolayer in the presence of SCN. Comparison to NO3 samples shows that the effects are strongly dependent on the character of the anion, providing further evidence of ion-specific effects dominating over electrostatics.