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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  2. Abstract Hierarchical nucleation pathways are ubiquitous in the synthesis of minerals and materials. In the case of zeolites and metal–organic frameworks, pre‐organized multi‐ion “secondary building units” (SBUs) have been proposed as fundamental building blocks. However, detailing the progress of multi‐step reaction mechanisms from monomeric species to stable crystals and defining the structures of the SBUs remains an unmet challenge. Combining in situ nuclear magnetic resonance, small‐angle X‐ray scattering, and atomic force microscopy, we show that crystallization of the framework silicate, cyclosilicate hydrate, occurs through an assembly of cubic octameric Q 3 8 polyanions formed through cross‐linking and polymerization of smaller silicate monomers and other oligomers. These Q 3 8 are stabilized by hydrogen bonds with surrounding H 2 O and tetramethylammonium ions (TMA + ). When Q 3 8 levels reach a threshold of ≈32 % of the total silicate species, nucleation occurs. Further growth proceeds through the incorporation of [(TMA) x (Q 3 8 )⋅ n  H 2 O] ( x −8) clathrate complexes into step edges on the crystals. 
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  3. Hierarchical nucleation pathways are ubiquitous in the synthesis of minerals and materials. In the case of zeolites and metal–organic frameworks, pre-organized multi-ion “secondary building units” (SBUs) have been proposed as fundamental building blocks. However, detailing the progress of multi-step reaction mechanisms from monomeric species to stable crystals and defining the structures of the SBUs remains an unmet challenge. Combining in situ nuclear magnetic resonance, small-angle X-ray scattering, and atomic force microscopy, we show that crystallization of the framework silicate, cyclosilicate hydrate, occurs through an assembly of cubic octameric Q38 polyanions formed through cross-linking and polymerization of smaller silicate monomers and other oligomers. These Q38 are stabilized by hydrogen bonds with surrounding H2O and tetramethylammonium ions (TMA+). When Q38 levels reach a threshold of ≈32 % of the total silicate species, nucleation occurs. Further growth proceeds through the incorporation of [(TMA)x(Q38)⋅n H2O](x−8) clathrate complexes into step edges on the crystals. 
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  4. Abstract Nutrient foraging by fungi weathers rocks by mechanical and biochemical processes. Distinguishing fungal-driven transformation from abiotic mechanisms in soil remains a challenge due to complexities within natural field environments. We examined the role of fungal hyphae in the incipient weathering of granulated basalt from a three-year field experiment in a mixed hardwood-pine forest (S. Carolina) to identify alteration at the nanometer to micron scales based on microscopy-tomography analyses. Investigations of fungal-grain contacts revealed (i) a hypha-biofilm-basaltic glass interface coinciding with titanomagnetite inclusions exposed on the grain surface and embedded in the glass matrix and (ii) native dendritic and subhedral titanomagnetite inclusions in the upper 1–2 µm of the grain surface that spanned the length of the fungal-grain interface. We provide evidence of submicron basaltic glass dissolution occurring at a fungal-grain contact in a soil field setting. An example of how fungal-mediated weathering can be distinguished from abiotic mechanisms in the field was demonstrated by observing hyphal selective occupation and hydrolysis of glass-titanomagnetite surfaces. We hypothesize that the fungi were drawn to basaltic glass-titanomagnetite boundaries given that titanomagnetite exposed on or very near grain surfaces represents a source of iron to microbes. Furthermore, glass is energetically favorable to weathering in the presence of titanomagnetite. Our observations demonstrate that fungi interact with and transform basaltic substrates over a three-year time scale in field environments, which is central to understanding the rates and pathways of biogeochemical reactions related to nuclear waste disposal, geologic carbon storage, nutrient cycling, cultural artifact preservation, and soil-formation processes. 
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  5. Water electrolysis can use renewable electricity to produce green hydrogen, a portable fuel and sustainable chemical precursor. Improving electrolyzer efficiency hinges on the activity of the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) catalyst. Earth-abundant, ABO3-type perovskite oxides offer great compositional, structural, and electronic tunability, with previous studies showing compositional substitution can increase the OER activity drastically. However, the relationship between the tailored bulk composition and that of the surface, where OER occurs, remains unclear. Here, we study the effects of electrochemical cycling on the OER activity of La 0.5 Sr 0.5 Ni 1-x Fe x O 3-δ (x = 0-0.5) epitaxial films grown by oxide molecular beam epitaxy as a model Sr-containing perovskite oxide. Electrochemical testing and surface-sensitive spectroscopic analyses show Ni segregation, which is affected by electrochemical history, along with surface amorphization, coupled with changes in OER activity. Our findings highlight the importance of surface composition and electrochemical cycling conditions in understanding OER performance on mixed metal oxide catalysts, suggesting common motifs of the active surface with high surface area systems. 
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  6. Hybrid MBE produces epitaxial SrTiO 3 free-standing nanomembranes using remote epitaxy in an adsorption-controlled manner. 
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  7. Abstract

    Prussian blue analogues (PBAs) cathodes can host diverse monovalent and multivalent metal ions due to their tunable structure. However, their electrochemical performance suffers from poor cycle life associated with chemo‐mechanical instabilities. This study investigates the driving forces behind chemo‐mechanical instabilities in Ni‐ and Mn‐based PBAs cathodes for K‐ion batteries by combining electrochemical analysis, digital image correlation, and spectroscopy techniques. Capacity retention in Ni‐based PBA is 96% whereas it is 91.5% for Mn‐based PBA after 100 cycles at C/5 rate. During charge, the potassium nickel hexacyanoferrate (KNHCF) electrode experiences a positive strain generation whereas the potassium manganese hexacyanoferrate (KMHCF) electrode undergoes initially positive strain generation followed by a reduction in strains at a higher state of charge. Overall, both cathodes undergo similar reversible electrochemical strains in each charge–discharge cycle. There is ~0.80% irreversible strain generation in both cathodes after 5 cycles. XPS studies indicated richer organic layer compounds in the cathode‐electrolyte interface (CEI) layer formed on KMHCF cathodes compared to the KNHCF ones. Faster capacity fades in Mn‐based PBA, compared to Ni‐based ones, is attributed to the formation of richer organic compounds in CEI layers, rather than mechanical deformations. Understanding the driving forces behind instabilities provides a guideline to develop material‐based strategies for better electrochemical performance.

     
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  8. null (Ed.)