Crystallographic studies of magnetite and titanomaghemite

  • Stephen Collyer

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The crystal structure of natural magnetite has been investigated on the basis of previously published X-ray intensity data and a newly acquired, more extensive data base. Both investigations show that the structure does not conform to the centrosymmetrical space group Fd3m, as is normally assumed, but the non-centrosymmetrical space group F43m. The structure refinement provides values for the atom positions, anisotropic thermal parameters and bond lengths. A study of Friedel related pairs of X-ray intensities shows that Friedel's law is violated in magnetite, further confirming that the space group is non-centrosymmetrical. It was found that the octahedral site cations in magnetite do not occupy special positions at the centres of the octahedral interstices as they
should under the space group Fd3m, but are displaced along <111 > directions leading to F43m symmetry. A mechanism is known for the origin of these displacements and the likelihood of similar displacements occurring in other natural and synthetic spinels is discussed.
The crystal structure of a natural titanomaghemite was determined by a combination of X-ray diffraction and Mõssbauer spectroscopy. This
was confirmed as possessing a primitive cubic Bravais lattice with the
space group P4332 and the structural formula:
Fe3+.0.96 0 0.04 [Fe2+0.23 Fe3+0.99 Ti4+0.42 0 0.37 ] 042 -
where 0 represents a cation vacancy. As the above formula shows, there are cation vacancies on both tetrahedral arrl octahedral sites, the majority being restricted to octahedral sltes. No tetrahedral site Fe2+ or Ti4+ was observed. Values for the atom positions, anisotropic thermal parameters and bond lengths have been determined for this particular specimen.
Date of AwardMar 1986
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorD.J. Vaughan (Supervisor) & N.W. Grimes (Supervisor)


  • magnetite
  • titanomaghemite
  • spinel structure
  • x-ray diffraction
  • mossbauer spectroscopy

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