A XANES study of cobalt speciation state in blue-and-white glazes from 16th to 17th century Chinese porcelains

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The composition of cobalt blue pigments used in ancient blue-and-white Chinese glazes is known to have changed between the 14th and the 17th century and ratios of some main chemical components plus trace elements are relevant guide-lines to establish the porcelain manufacture period. Once archaeological findings of Chinese porcelains can contribute to set up dating processes, a study of blue-and-white porcelain shards recovered during recent excavations in Lisbon Old-City was carried out by non-destructive laboratory X-ray fluorescence spectrometry for chemical characterization, combined with X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) using synchrotron radiation to ascertain the formal valence and coordination of pigmenting cobalt ions. Following a preliminary extended X-ray absorption fine-structure study that revealed a coordination of divalent cobalt ions slightly above four, a detailed analysis of the near-edge region of Co 1s X-ray absorption spectra (XANES) was carried out on the blue-and-white glazes from those archaeological Chinese porcelain fragments. Pre-edge features and edge details are discussed in comparison with XANES spectra obtained from model compounds with well known crystal structure - Co3O4, CoAl2O4 and Co2SiO4, plus a cobalt-based blue pigment (cerulean). Present chemical data validate the manufacture period of studied Chinese porcelains advanced by Art Historians on the single basis of stylistic features (late 16th and medium 17th century). Spectroscopic results confirm a coordination environment of pigmenting Co2+ ions close to tetrahedral and substantiate the dual role of cobalt as network former plus modifier in the glaze of ancient Chinese porcelains.
Original languageUnknown
Pages (from-to)97-102
JournalJournal of Electron Spectroscopy and Related Phenomena
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012

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