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Concept: Hematite


Abnormal accumulation of brain metals is a key feature of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Formation of amyloid-β plaque cores (APC) is related to interactions with biometals, especially Fe, Cu and Zn, but their particular structural associations and roles remain unclear. Using an integrative set of advanced transmission electron microscopy (TEM) techniques, including spherical aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy (Cs-STEM), nano-beam electron diffraction, electron holography and analytical spectroscopy techniques (EDX and EELS), we demonstrate that Fe in APC is present as iron oxide (Fe3O4) magnetite nanoparticles. Here we show that Fe was accumulated primarily as nanostructured particles within APC, whereas Cu and Zn were distributed through the amyloid fibers. Remarkably, these highly organized crystalline magnetite nanostructures directly bound into fibrillar Aβ showed characteristic superparamagnetic responses with saturated magnetization with circular contours, as observed for the first time by off-axis electron holography of nanometer scale particles.

Concepts: Electron, Iron, Magnetism, Aluminium, Transmission electron microscopy, Iron ore, Magnetite, Hematite


Opportunity has investigated in detail rocks on the rim of the Noachian age Endeavour crater, where orbital spectral reflectance signatures indicate the presence of Fe(+3)-rich smectites. The signatures are associated with fine-grained, layered rocks containing spherules of diagenetic or impact origin. The layered rocks are overlain by breccias, and both units are cut by calcium sulfate veins precipitated from fluids that circulated after the Endeavour impact. Compositional data for fractures in the layered rocks suggest formation of Al-rich smectites by aqueous leaching. Evidence is thus preserved for water-rock interactions before and after the impact, with aqueous environments of slightly acidic to circum-neutral pH that would have been more favorable for prebiotic chemistry and microorganisms than those recorded by younger sulfate-rich rocks at Meridiani Planum.

Concepts: Victoria, Impact crater, Opportunity rover, Hematite, Mars Exploration Rover, Endeavour, Meridiani Planum


Tunable size ultrasmall superparamagnetic iron oxide (USPIO) nanoparticles from 3 to 9 nm coated with polyethylene glycol phosphonate moieties have been designed for neovascularization MRI.

Concepts: Iron, Iron oxide, Medical imaging, Magnetic resonance imaging, Sol-gel, Contrast medium, Magnetite, Hematite


Fe deficiency responses in Strategy I causes a shift from the formation of partially removable hydrous ferric oxide on the root surface to the accumulation of Fe-citrate in the xylem. Iron may accumulate in various chemical forms during its uptake and assimilation in roots. The permanent and transient Fe microenvironments formed during these processes in cucumber which takes up Fe in a reduction based process (Strategy I) have been investigated. The identification of Fe microenvironments was carried out with (57)Fe Mössbauer spectroscopy and immunoblotting, whereas reductive washing and high-resolution microscopy was applied for the localization. In plants supplied with (57)Fe(III)-citrate, a transient presence of Fe-carboxylates in removable forms and the accumulation of partly removable, amorphous hydrous ferric oxide/hydroxyde have been identified in the apoplast and on the root surface, respectively. The latter may at least partly be the consequence of bacterial activity at the root surface. Ferritin accumulation did not occur at optimal Fe supply. Under Fe deficiency, highly soluble ferrous hexaaqua complex is transiently formed along with the accumulation of Fe-carboxylates, likely Fe-citrate. As (57)Fe-citrate is non-removable from the root samples of Fe deficient plants, the major site of accumulation is suggested to be the root xylem. Reductive washing results in another ferrous microenvironment remaining in the root apoplast, the Fe(II)-bipyridyl complex, which accounts for ~30 % of the total Fe content of the root samples treated for 10 min and rinsed with CaSO4 solution. When (57)Fe(III)-EDTA or (57)Fe(III)-EDDHA was applied as Fe-source higher soluble ferrous Fe accumulation was accompanied by a lower total Fe content, confirming that chelates are more efficient in maintaining soluble Fe in the medium while less stable natural complexes as Fe-citrate may perform better in Fe accumulation.

Concepts: Oxygen, Iron, Root, Rust, Ferrous, Hematite, Ferric, Iron compounds


The growing implementation of iron oxide nanoparticles in medicine requires a thorough investigation of their physiological influence. Therefore, effects of Fe3O4 nanoparticles on isometric contractions of healthy human mesenteric artery in vitro were investigated.

Concepts: Health, Iron, Iron oxide, Oxides, Iron ore, Magnetite, Focus, Hematite


To achieve high and sustained magnetic particle loading in a proliferative and endocytotically active neural transplant population (astrocytes) through tailored magnetite content in polymeric iron oxide particles.

Concepts: Iron, Iron oxide, Particle physics, Oxides, Particle, Iron ore, Magnetite, Hematite


The use of manganese and iron oxides by late Neandertals is well documented in Europe, especially for the period 60-40 kya. Such finds often have been interpreted as pigments even though their exact function is largely unknown. Here we report significantly older iron oxide finds that constitute the earliest documented use of red ochre by Neandertals. These finds were small concentrates of red material retrieved during excavations at Maastricht-Belvédère, The Netherlands. The excavations exposed a series of well-preserved flint artifact (and occasionally bone) scatters, formed in a river valley setting during a late Middle Pleistocene full interglacial period. Samples of the reddish material were submitted to various forms of analyses to study their physical properties. All analyses identified the red material as hematite. This is a nonlocal material that was imported to the site, possibly over dozens of kilometers. Identification of the Maastricht-Belvédère finds as hematite pushes the use of red ochre by (early) Neandertals back in time significantly, to minimally 200-250 kya (i.e., to the same time range as the early ochre use in the African record).

Concepts: Oxygen, Iron, Iron oxide, Pigment, Magnetite, Hematite, Ochre, Iron oxide pigments


The distribution, accumulation and circulation of oxygen and hydrogen in Earth’s interior dictate the geochemical evolution of the hydrosphere, atmosphere and biosphere. The oxygen-rich atmosphere and iron-rich core represent two end-members of the oxygen-iron (O-Fe) system, overlapping with the entire pressure-temperature-composition range of the planet. The extreme pressure and temperature conditions of the deep interior alter the oxidation states, spin states and phase stabilities of iron oxides, creating new stoichiometries, such as Fe4O5 (ref. 5) and Fe5O6 (ref. 6). Such interactions between O and Fe dictate Earth’s formation, the separation of the core and mantle, and the evolution of the atmosphere. Iron, in its multiple oxidation states, controls the oxygen fugacity and oxygen budget, with hydrogen having a key role in the reaction of Fe and O (causing iron to rust in humid air). Here we use first-principles calculations and experiments to identify a highly stable, pyrite-structured iron oxide (FeO2) at 76 gigapascals and 1,800 kelvin that holds an excessive amount of oxygen. We show that the mineral goethite, FeOOH, which exists ubiquitously as ‘rust’ and is concentrated in bog iron ore, decomposes under the deep lower-mantle conditions to form FeO2 and release H2. The reaction could cause accumulation of the heavy FeO2-bearing patches in the deep lower mantle, upward migration of hydrogen, and separation of the oxygen and hydrogen cycles. This process provides an alternative interpretation for the origin of seismic and geochemical anomalies in the deep lower mantle, as well as a sporadic O2 source for the Great Oxidation Event over two billion years ago that created the present oxygen-rich atmosphere.

Concepts: Oxygen, Iron, Iron oxide, Earth, Aluminium, Iron ore, Hematite, Iron(II) oxide


Although chemically very simple, Fe2O3 is known to undergo a series of enigmatic structural, electronic and magnetic transformations at high pressures and high temperatures. So far, these transformations have neither been correctly described nor understood because of the lack of structural data. Here we report a systematic investigation of the behaviour of Fe2O3 at pressures over 100 GPa and temperatures above 2,500 K employing single crystal X-ray diffraction and synchrotron Mössbauer source spectroscopy. Crystal chemical analysis of structures presented here and known Fe(II, III) oxides shows their fundamental relationships and that they can be described by the homologous series nFeO·mFe2O3. Decomposition of Fe2O3 and Fe3O4 observed at pressures above 60 GPa and temperatures of 2,000 K leads to crystallization of unusual Fe5O7 and Fe25O32 phases with release of oxygen. Our findings suggest that mixed-valence iron oxides may play a significant role in oxygen cycling between earth reservoirs.

Concepts: Oxygen, Iron, Chemistry, Nitrogen, X-ray crystallography, Knowledge, Hematite, Iron(II) oxide


Microorganisms are a primary control on the redox-induced cycling of iron in the environment. Despite the ability of bacteria to grow using both Fe(II) and Fe(III) bound in solid-phase iron minerals, it is currently unknown whether changing environmental conditions enable the sharing of electrons in mixed-valent iron oxides between bacteria with different metabolisms. We show through magnetic and spectroscopic measurements that the phototrophic Fe(II)-oxidizing bacterium Rhodopseudomonas palustris TIE-1 oxidizes magnetite (Fe3O4) nanoparticles using light energy. This process is reversible in co-cultures by the anaerobic Fe(III)-reducing bacterium Geobacter sulfurreducens. These results demonstrate that Fe ions bound in the highly crystalline mineral magnetite are bioavailable as electron sinks and electron sources under varying environmental conditions, effectively rendering magnetite a naturally occurring battery.

Concepts: Photosynthesis, Iron, Redox, Nitrogen, Carbon, Aluminium, Magnetite, Hematite