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Concept: Clay


Aluminum-doped zinc oxide ceramics with yttria doping (AZO:Y) ranging from 0 to 0.2 wt.% were fabricated by pressureless sintering yttria-modified nanoparticles in air at 1,300°C. Scanning electron microscopy, energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, X-ray diffraction analysis, a physical property measurement system, and a densimeter were employed to characterize the precursor nanoparticles and the sintered AZO ceramics. It was shown that a small amount of yttria doping can remarkably retard the growth of the as-received precursor nanoparticles, further improve the microstructure, refine the grain size, and enhance the density for the sintered ceramic. Increasing the yttria doping to 0.2 wt.%, the AZO:Y nanoparticles synthetized by a coprecipitation process have a nearly sphere-shaped morphology and a mean particle diameter of 15.1 nm. Using the same amount of yttria, a fully dense AZO ceramic (99.98% of theoretical density) with a grain size of 2.2 μm and a bulk resistivity of 4.6 × 10-3 Ω·cm can be achieved. This kind of AZO:Y ceramic has a potential to be used as a high-quality sputtering target to deposit ZnO-based transparent conductive films with better optical and electrical properties.

Concepts: Electron, X-ray, Scanning electron microscope, Ceramic engineering, Pottery, Ceramic, Sintering, Clay


The successful establishment of agricultural crops depends on sowing quality, machinery performance, soil type and conditions, among other factors. This study evaluates the operational quality of mechanized peanut sowing in three soil types (sand, silt, and clay) with variable moisture contents. The experiment was conducted in three locations in the state of São Paulo, Brazil. The track-sampling scheme was used for 80 sampling locations of each soil type. Descriptive statistics and statistical process control (SPC) were used to evaluate the quality indicators of mechanized peanut sowing. The variables had normal distributions and were stable from the viewpoint of SPC. The best performance for peanut sowing density, normal spacing, and the initial seedling growing stand was found for clayey soil followed by sandy soil and then silty soil. Sandy or clayey soils displayed similar results regarding sowing depth, which was deeper than in the silty soil. Overall, the texture and the moisture of clayey soil provided the best operational performance for mechanized peanut sowing.

Concepts: Soil, Erosion, Silt, Sand, Clay, Loess, Statistical process control, W. Edwards Deming


Chimpanzees of the Sonso community, Budongo Forest, Uganda were observed eating clay and drinking clay-water from waterholes. We show that clay, clay-rich water, and clay obtained with leaf sponges, provide a range of minerals in different concentrations. The presence of aluminium in the clay consumed indicates that it takes the form of kaolinite. We discuss the contribution of clay geophagy to the mineral intake of the Sonso chimpanzees and show that clay eaten using leaf sponges is particularly rich in minerals. We show that termite mound soil, also regularly consumed, is rich in minerals. We discuss the frequency of clay and termite soil geophagy in the context of the disappearance from Budongo Forest of a formerly rich source of minerals, the decaying pith of Raphia farinifera palms.

Concepts: Mineral, Aluminium, Sulfur, Silicate minerals, Clay, Feldspar, Ore, Weathering


When organic matter is mixed on a nanometer scale with clay minerals, the individual D/H ratios of the two H-bearing phases cannot be directly measured even with the nominal spatial resolution of nanoscale secondary ion mass spectrometry (NanoSIMS, 50-100 nm). To overcome this limitation, a new analytical protocol is proposed based on the deconvolution of the D(-)/H(-) and (16)OD(-)/(16)OH(-) ionic ratios measured by NanoSIMS. Indeed, since the yields of H(-) and (16)OH(-) are different for organics and clays, it should be theoretically possible to determine the mixing ratio of these two components in the area analyzed by the ion probe. Using organics with different D/H ratios, the interdependence of the D(-)/H(-) and (16)OD(-)/(16)OH(-) ionic ratios was determined in pure samples. Then using the H(-) and (16)OH(-) yields and the isotopic ratios measured on pure organic matter and clays, the expected D(-)/H(-) and (16)OD(-)/(16)OH(-) variations as a function of the mixing proportions were determined. These numerical predictions are consistent with measurements on laboratory prepared mixtures of D-rich organic matter and D-poor phyllosilicates, validating both the proposed experimental protocol and its use for meteorites. With an improvement of the precision of the ionic ratios by a factor of 10, it should possible to expend this protocol to samples having natural terrestrial D/H variations. Such an improvement could be attainable with the development of synthetic deuterated reference samples.

Concepts: Mass spectrometry, Measurement, Chemistry, Analytical chemistry, Isotope, Secondary ion mass spectrometry, Clay, Mix


Sorption to the phyllosilicate clay minerals illite, kaolinite, and bentonite, has been studied for a wide variety of organic cations, using a flow-through method with fully aqueous medium as eluent. Linear isotherms were observed at concentrations below 10% of the cation exchange capacity (CEC) for illite and kaolinite, and below 1 mmol/kg (<1% CEC) for bentonite. Sorption to clays was strongly influenced by electrolyte composition of the eluent, but with a consistent trend for a diverse set of compounds on all clays, thus allowing for empirical correction factors. When sorption affinities for a given compound to a given clay are normalized to the CEC of the clay, the differences in sorption affinities between clays are reduced to less than 0.5 log units for most compounds. While CEC-normalized sorption of quaternary ammonium compounds to clay was up to 10-fold higher than CEC-normalized sorption to soil organic matter, CEC-normalized sorption for most compounds was comparable between clays and soil organic matter. The clay fraction is thus a potentially relevant sorption phase for organic cations in many soils. The sorption data for organic cations to clay showed several regular trends with molecular structure, but also showed quite a few systematic effects that we cannot explain yet. A model based on molecular size and charge density at the ionized nitrogen is used here as tool to obtain benchmark values that elucidate the effect of specific polar moieties on the sorption affinity.

Concepts: Electric charge, Molecule, Chemistry, Soil, Ion, Ammonium, Humus, Clay


A good material for CO2 capture should possess some specific properties: (i) a large effective surface area with good adsorption capacity, (ii) selectivity for CO2, (iii) regeneration capacity with minimum energy input, allowing reutilization of the material for CO2 adsorption, and (iv) low cost and high environmental friendliness. Smectite clays are layered nanoporous materials that may be good candidates in this context. Here we report experiments which show that gaseous CO2 intercalates into the interlayer nano-space of smectite clay (synthetic fluorohectorite) at conditions close to ambient. The rate of intercalation, as well as the retention ability of CO2 was found to be strongly dependent on the type of the interlayer cation, which in the present case is Li(+), Na(+) or Ni(2+). Interestingly, we observe that the smectite Li-fluorohectorite is able to retain CO2 up to a temperature of 35°C at ambient pressure, and that the captured CO2 can be released by heating above this temperature. Our estimates indicate that smectite clays, even with the standard cations analyzed here, can capture an amount of CO2 comparable to other materials studied in this context.

Concepts: Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Atom, Carbon, Oxide, Materials science, Gas, Clay


Bentonite is a natural clay mineral with health-promoting effects due to high adsorption abilities with high cation exchange capacity. Previously, we found an anti-obesity effect for the Bgp35b-p bentonite produced in South Korea where its high adsorbent ability of dietary lipids possibly partially removed lipidic environment in the gut (under revision). It hypothesized that Bgp35b-p affects the intestinal microbial community, thus the microbial changes were investigated via the next generation sequencing targeting bacterial 16s rRNA gene and the bioinformatics using QIIME were performed in feces of C57BL/6 male mice fed a HFD with the Bgp35b-p.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Archaea, Bacteria, Gut flora, Ribosomal RNA, 16S ribosomal RNA, Clay


The purpose of this study was to compare the shear bond strength of a novel repair system, Nova Compo SF with Ceramic Repair, Ivoclar, to computer-aided design/computer-assisted manufacturing (CAD/CAM) restorative materials (IPS e.max CAD and Empress CAD).

Concepts: Computer-aided design, Ceramic materials, Ceramic, Clay, Porcelain, Earthenware


Soil traces are useful as forensic evidences because they frequently adhere to individuals and objects associated with crimes and can place or discard a suspect at/from a crime scene. Soil is a mixture of organic and inorganic components and among them soil clay contains signatures that make it reliable as forensic evidence. In this study, we hypothesized that soils can be forensically distinguished through the analysis of their clay fraction alone, and that samples of the same soil type can be consistently distinguished according to the distance they were collected from each other. To test these hypotheses 16 Oxisol samples were collected at distances of between 2m and 1.000m, and 16 Inceptisol samples were collected at distances of between 2m and 300m from each other. Clay fractions were extracted from soil samples and analyzed for hyperspectral color reflectance (HSI), X-ray diffraction crystallographic (XRD), and for contents of iron oxides, kaolinite and gibbsite. The dataset was submitted to multivariate analysis and results were from 65% to 100% effective to distinguish between samples from the two soil types. Both soil types could be consistently distinguished for forensic purposes according to the distance that samples were collected from each other: 1000m for Oxisol and 10m for Inceptisol. Clay color and XRD analysis were the most effective techniques to distinguish clay samples, and Inceptisol samples were more easily distinguished than Oxisol samples. Soil forensics seems a promising field for soil scientists as soil clay can be useful as forensic evidence by using routine analytical techniques from soil science.

Concepts: Scientific method, Diffraction, X-ray, Law, Erosion, X-ray scattering techniques, Clay, Forensic evidence


Cylindrical objects made usually of fired clay but sometimes of stone were found at the Yarmukian Pottery Neolithic sites of Sha'ar HaGolan and Munhata (first half of the 8(th) millennium BP) in the Jordan Valley. Similar objects have been reported from other Near Eastern Pottery Neolithic sites. Most scholars have interpreted them as cultic objects in the shape of phalli, while others have referred to them in more general terms as “clay pestles,” “clay rods,” and “cylindrical clay objects.” Re-examination of these artifacts leads us to present a new interpretation of their function and to suggest a reconstruction of their technology and mode of use. We suggest that these objects were components of fire drills and consider them the earliest evidence of a complex technology of fire ignition, which incorporates the cylindrical objects in the role of matches.

Concepts: Technology, Jordan, Neolithic, Fertile Crescent, Clay, Jordan River, Jericho, Orkney