The stability of organomineral aggregates in soils has a key influence on nutrient cycling, erosion, and soil productivity. Both clay minerals with distinct basal and edge surfaces and organic molecules with reactive functional groups offer rich bonding environments. While clay edges often promote strong inner-sphere bonding of −COOH-laden organics, we explore typically weaker, outer-sphere bonding of such molecules onto basal planes and its significance in organomineral interactions. In this surface force apparatus study, we probed face-specific interactions of negatively charged mica basal surfaces in solutions containing carboxyl-bearing, low-molecular-weight dicarboxylic acids (DAs). Our experiments provide distance-resolved, nanometer-range measurements of forces acting between two (001) mica surfaces and simultaneously probe DA adsorption. We show that background inorganic ions display crucial importance in nanoscale forces acting between basal mica surfaces and in DA adsorption: Na+ contributes to strong repulsion and little binding of dicarboxylic anions, while small amounts of Ca2+ are sufficient to screen the basal surface charge of mica, facilitate strong adhesion, and enhance dicarboxylic anion adsorption by acting as cationic bridges. Despite reversible and weak adsorption of DAs, we resolve their multilayer binding via assembly of hydrophobic chains in the presence of Ca2+, pointing the importance of abundant, less reactive basal clay surfaces in organomineral interactions.
This item's license is: Attribution 4.0 International