Hydrated iron oxides
What is Iron oxide?
Iron(III) oxide is also used as a pigment under the names "Pigment Brown 6", "Pigment Brown 7", and "Pigment Red 101". Some of them, e.g., Pigment Red 101 and Pigment Brown 6, are approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in cosmetics. Iron oxides are used as pigments in dental composites alongside titanium oxides. Iron(III) oxide was the most common magnetic particle used in all types of magnetic storage and recording media, including magnetic disks (for data storage) and magnetic tape (used in audio and video recording as well as data storage). Cobalt alloy superseded its use in computer disks, enabling thinner magnetic films with higher storage density. The overwhelming application of iron(III) oxide is as the feedstock of the steel and iron industries, e.g., the production of iron, steel, and many alloys.
Other solid phases of Iron oxide
Several other phases have been identified or claimed. The β-phase is cubic body-centered (space group Ia3), metastable, and converts to alpha phase at temperatures above 500 °C (930 °F). It can be prepared by reduction of hematite by carbon, pyrolysis of iron(III) chloride solution, or thermal decomposition of iron(III) sulfate. The epsilon (ε) phase is rhombic, shows properties intermediate between alpha and gamma, and may have useful magnetic properties applicable for purposes such as high-density recording media for big data storage. Preparation of the pure epsilon phase has proven very challenging. Material with a high proportion of epsilon phase can be prepared by thermal transformation of the gamma phase. The epsilon phase is also metastable, transforming to the alpha phase at between 500 and 750 °C (930 and 1,380 °F). It can also be prepared by oxidation of iron in an electric arc or by sol-gel precipitation from iron(III) nitrate. Research has revealed epsilon iron(III) oxide in ancient Chinese Jian ceramic glazes, which may provide insight into ways to produce that form in the lab.
Hydrated iron(III) oxides
Several hydrates of Iron(III) oxide exist. When alkali is added to solutions of soluble Fe(III) salts, a red-brown gelatinous precipitate forms, this is not Fe(OH)3, but Fe2O3·H2O (also written as Fe(O)OH). Several forms of the hydrated oxide of Fe(III) also exist. The red lepidocrocite (γ-Fe(O)OH) occurs on the outside of rusticles, and the orange goethite (α-Fe(O)OH) occurs internally in rusticles. When Fe2O3·H2O is heated, it loses its water of hydration. Further heating at 1670 kelvin converts Fe2O3 to black Fe3O4 (FeIIFeIII2O4), known as mineral magnetite. Fe(O)OH is soluble in acids, giving [Fe(H2O)6]3+. In concentrated aqueous alkali, Fe2O3 gives [Fe(OH)6]3−.
Price of Iron oxide
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