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Crystal Chemistry and Structural Complexity of Natural and Synthetic Uranyl Selenites

1
Institute of Earth Sciences, St. Petersburg State University, University Emb. 7/9, St. Petersburg, 199034, Russian Federation
2
Fersman Mineralogical Museum of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninskiy pr. 18, 2, Moscow, 119071, Russian Federation
3
Institute of Physics, The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, v.v.i., Na Slovance 2, Praha 8, 18221, Czech Republic
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Crystals 2019, 9(12), 639; https://doi.org/10.3390/cryst9120639
Received: 10 November 2019 / Revised: 24 November 2019 / Accepted: 28 November 2019 / Published: 30 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mineralogical Crystallography)
Comparison of the natural and synthetic phases allows an overview to be made and even an understanding of the crystal growth processes and mechanisms of the particular crystal structure formation. Thus, in this work, we review the crystal chemistry of the family of uranyl selenite compounds, paying special attention to the pathways of synthesis and topological analysis of the known crystal structures. Comparison of the isotypic natural and synthetic uranyl-bearing compounds suggests that uranyl selenite mineral formation requires heating, which most likely can be attributed to the radioactive decay. Structural complexity studies revealed that the majority of synthetic compounds have the topological symmetry of uranyl selenite building blocks equal to the structural symmetry, which means that the highest symmetry of uranyl complexes is preserved regardless of the interstitial filling of the structures. Whereas the real symmetry of U-Se complexes in the structures of minerals is lower than their topological symmetry, which means that interstitial cations and H2O molecules significantly affect the structural architecture of natural compounds. At the same time, structural complexity parameters for the whole structure are usually higher for the minerals than those for the synthetic compounds of a similar or close organization, which probably indicates the preferred existence of such natural-born architectures. In addition, the reexamination of the crystal structures of two uranyl selenite minerals guilleminite and demesmaekerite is reported. As a result of the single crystal X-ray diffraction analysis of demesmaekerite, Pb2Cu5[(UO2)2(SeO3)6(OH)6](H2O)2, the H atoms positions belonging to the interstitial H2O molecules were assigned. The refinement of the guilleminite crystal structure allowed the determination of an additional site arranged within the void of the interlayer space and occupied by an H2O molecule, which suggests the formula of guilleminite to be written as Ba[(UO2)3(SeO3)2O2](H2O)4 instead of Ba[(UO2)3(SeO3)2O2](H2O)3.
Keywords: uranyl; selenite; selenate; crystal structure; topology; structural complexity; demesmaekerite; guillemenite; haynesite uranyl; selenite; selenate; crystal structure; topology; structural complexity; demesmaekerite; guillemenite; haynesite
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Gurzhiy, V.V.; Kuporev, I.V.; Kovrugin, V.M.; Murashko, M.N.; Kasatkin, A.V.; Plášil, J. Crystal Chemistry and Structural Complexity of Natural and Synthetic Uranyl Selenites. Crystals 2019, 9, 639.

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