Magnetic Cristobalite (?): A Possible New Magnetic Phase Produced by the Thermal Decomposition of Nontronite

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Science  14 Sep 1984:
Vol. 225, Issue 4667, pp. 1152-1154
DOI: 10.1126/science.225.4667.1152


Prolonged heat treatment (> 1 hour) of nontronite (an iron-rich smectite clay) at 900° to 1000°C produces a phase with some unusual magnetic properties. This new phase has a Curie temperature of 200° to 220°C, extremely high remanent coercivities in excess of 800 milliteslas, and a room-temperature coercivity dependent on the magnitude of the applied field during previous thermomagnetic cycling from above 220°C. X-ray and magnetic analyses suggest that an iron-substituted cristobalite could be responsible, in part, for these observations. Formation of this magnetic cristobalite, however, may require topotactic growth from a smectite precursor.