Calcium carbonate (CaCO3) is one of the most abundant substances on earth and has a large array of industrial applications. Considerable research has been conducted in an effort to synthesize calcium carbonate microparticles with controllable and specific morphologies and sizes. CaCO3 produced by a precipitation reaction of calcium nitrate and sodium carbonate solution was found to have high polymorphism and batch to batch variability. In this study, we investigated the polymorphism of the precipitated material and analyzed the chemical composition, particle morphology, and crystalline state revealing that the presence of silicon atoms in the precipitant is a key factor effecting particle shape and crystal state. An elemental analysis of single particles within a polymorphic sample, using energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDS) conjugated microscopy, showed that only spherical particles, but not irregular shaped one, contained traces of silicon atoms. In agreement, silicon-containing additives lead to homogenous, amorphous nanosphere particles, verified by X-ray powder diffraction (XRD). Our findings provide important insights into the mechanism of calcium carbonate synthesis, as well as introducing a method to control the precipitants at the micro-scale for many diverse applications.
Keywords: EDS; calcite; calcium carbonate; nanoparticles; sodium silicate.