Radiation Induced Chemical Activity at Iron and Copper Oxide Surfaces

Doctoral Dissertation


The radiolysis of three iron oxides, two copper oxides, and aluminum oxide with varying amounts of water were performed using γ-rays and 5 MeV 4He ions. The adsorbed water on the surfaces was characterized using temperature programmed desorption and diffuse reflectance infrared spectroscopy, which indicated that all of the oxides had chemisorbed water on the surface. Physisorbed water was observed on the Fe2O3 and Al2O3 surfaces as well. Molecular hydrogen was produced from adsorbed water only on Fe2O3 and Al2O3, while the other compounds did not show any hydrogen production due to the low amounts of water on the surfaces. Slurries of varying amounts of water were also examined for hydrogen production, and they showed yields that were greater than the yield for bulk water. However, the yields of hydrogen from the copper compounds were much lower than those of the iron suggesting that the copper oxides are relatively inert to radiation induced damage to nearby water.

X-ray diffraction measurements did not show any indication of changes to the bulk crystal structure due to radiolysis for any of the oxides. The surfaces of the oxides were analyzed using Raman spectroscopy and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS). For the iron samples, FeO and Fe3O4, Raman spectroscopy revealed areas of Fe2O3 had formed following irradiation with He ions. XPS indicated the formation of a new oxygen species on the iron oxide surfaces. Raman spectroscopy of the copper oxides did not reveal any changes in the surface composition, however, XPS measurements showed a decrease in the amount of OH groups on the surface of Cu2O, while for the CuO samples the amount of OH groups were found to increase following radiolysis. Pristine Al2O3 showed the presence of a surface oxyhydroxide layer which was observed to decrease following radiolysis, consistent with the formation of molecular hydrogen.


Attribute NameValues
  • etd-04102015-105829

Author Sarah Catherine Reiff
Advisor Michael Wiescher
Contributor Jay LaVerne, Committee Co-Chair
Contributor Bruce Bunker, Committee Member
Contributor Michael Wiescher, Committee Co-Chair
Contributor Philippe Collon, Committee Member
Contributor Anthony Hyder, Committee Member
Degree Level Doctoral Dissertation
Degree Discipline Physics
Degree Name PhD
Defense Date
  • 2015-03-31

Submission Date 2015-04-10
  • United States of America

  • Radiolysis

  • Water

  • Iron Oxides

  • Hydrogen Production

  • Copper Oxides

  • University of Notre Dame

  • English

Record Visibility Public
Content License
  • All rights reserved

Departments and Units


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