Physics and Chemistry of Minerals

, Volume 45, Issue 5, pp 405–422 | Cite as

Crystal chemistry and temperature behavior of the natural hydrous borate colemanite, a mineral commodity of boron

  • Paolo Lotti
  • G. Diego Gatta
  • Nicola Demitri
  • Giorgio Guastella
  • Silvia Rizzato
  • Marco Aldo Ortenzi
  • Fabrizio Magrini
  • Davide Comboni
  • Alessandro Guastoni
  • Maria Teresa Fernandez-Diaz
Original Paper


Colemanite, CaB3O4(OH)3⋅H2O, is the most common hydrous Ca-borate, as well as a major mineral commodity of boron. In this study, we report a thorough chemical analysis and the low-temperature behavior of a natural sample of colemanite by means of a multi-methodological approach. From the chemical point of view, the investigated sample resulted to be relatively pure, its composition being very close to the ideal one, with only a minor substitution of Sr2+ for Ca2+. At about 270.5 K, a displacive phase transition from the centrosymmetric P21/a to the acentric P21 space group occurs. On the basis of in situ single-crystal synchrotron X-ray (down to 104 K) and neutron diffraction (at 20 K) data, the hydrogen-bonding configuration of both the polymorphs and the structural modifications at the atomic scale at varying temperatures are described. The asymmetric distribution of ionic charges along the [010] axis, allowed by the loss of the inversion center, is likely responsible for the reported ferroelectric behavior of colemanite below the phase transition temperature.


Colemanite Borates Low temperature Phase transition Neutron diffraction Synchrotron Ferroelectric behavior 



Emanuela Schingaro, Mario Tribaudino and the Editor, Milan Rieder, are gratefully thanked for the valuable comments and suggestions, which improved the manuscript quality. ELETTRA (Trieste, Italy) and ILL (Grenoble, France) are acknowledged for the allocation of beamtime.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paolo Lotti
    • 1
    • 2
  • G. Diego Gatta
    • 1
    • 3
  • Nicola Demitri
    • 2
  • Giorgio Guastella
    • 4
  • Silvia Rizzato
    • 5
  • Marco Aldo Ortenzi
    • 5
    • 6
  • Fabrizio Magrini
    • 1
  • Davide Comboni
    • 1
  • Alessandro Guastoni
    • 7
  • Maria Teresa Fernandez-Diaz
    • 8
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della TerraUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanoItaly
  2. 2.Elettra Sincrotrone Trieste S.c.P.A.BasovizzaItaly
  3. 3.CNR-Istituto di Cristallografia, Sede di BariBariItaly
  4. 4.Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli, Direzione Regionale per la Lombardia, Laboratorio e Servizi ChimiciMilanoItaly
  5. 5.Dipartimento di ChimicaUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanoItaly
  6. 6.CRC Materiali Polimerici “LaMPo”, Dipartimento di ChimicaUniversità degli Studi di MilanoMilanoItaly
  7. 7.Dipartimento di GeoscienzeUniversità degli Studi di PadovaPadovaItaly
  8. 8.Institut Laue-LangevinGrenoble-Cedex 9France

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