Calorimetric Measurement of the Surface Energy of Enstatite, MgSiO3

Megan A. Householder, Tamilarasan Subramani, Kristina Lilova, James R. Lyons, Rhonda M. Stroud, Alexandra Navrotsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Surface thermodynamics of minerals influence their properties and occurrence in both terrestrial and planetary systems. Using high-temperature oxide melt solution calorimetry, we report the first direct measurement of the surface energy of enstatite, MgSiO3. Enstatite nanoparticles of different sizes were synthesized using the sol-gel method, characterized with X-ray diffraction, thermal analysis, infrared spectroscopy, surface area measurements, and electron microscopy. The materials consist of crystallites with sizes of ∼10-20 nm, which are agglomerated into larger nanoparticles. Thus, both surface and interface terms contribute to the measured enthalpies. Analysis based on calorimetry and calculated surface and interface areas gives the surface enthalpy of enstatite as 4.79 ± 0.45 J m-2. This value is comparable to that of forsterite (Mg2SiO4) and larger than those of many nonsilicate oxide materials. This large surface energy may present a barrier to the nucleation of enstatite in planetary atmospheres and other geochemical and planetary environments. The interfacial energy of enstatite appears to be close to zero. The transition enthalpy from bulk orthoenstatite to bulk clinoenstatite is 0.34 ± 0.93 kJ mol-1, which is in agreement with earlier reports. The methodology developed here can be extended to other materials having complex structures and morphologies to separate surface and interfacial contributions to energetics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)20106-20112
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Physical Chemistry C
Issue number40
StatePublished - Oct 12 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • General Energy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Surfaces, Coatings and Films


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