The Mean Inner Potential of Hematite α-Fe2O3Across the Morin Transition

Avi Auslender, Adham Basha, Daniel A. Grave, Avner Rothschild, Oswaldo Diguez, Amit Kohn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We measure the mean inner potential (MIP) of hematite, α-Fe2O3, using electron holography and transmission electron microscopy. Since the MIP is sensitive to valence electrons, we propose its use as a chemical bonding parameter for solids. Hematite can test the sensitivity of the MIP as a bonding parameter because of the Morin magnetic phase transition. Across this transition temperature, no change in the corundum crystal structure can be distinguished, while a change in hybridized Fe-3d and O-2p states was reported, affecting ionic bonding. For a given crystallographic phase, the change in the MIP with temperature is expected to be minor due to thermal expansion. Indeed, we measure the temperature dependence in corundum α-Al2O3(112¯0) between 95 and 295 K showing a constant MIP value of ∼16.8 V within the measurement accuracy of 0.45 V. Thus, our objectives are as follows: measure the MIP of hematite as a function of temperature and examine the sensitivity of the MIP as a bonding parameter for crystals. Measured MIPs of α-Fe2O3(112¯0) above the Morin transition are equal, 17.85 ± 0.50 V, 17.93 ± 0.50 V, at 295 K, 230 K, respectively. Below the Morin transition, at 95 K, a significant reduction of ∼1.3 V is measured to 16.56 ± 0.46 V. We show that this reduction follows charge redistribution resulting in increased ionic bonding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)919-930
Number of pages12
JournalMicroscopy and Microanalysis
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2023


  • Morin transition temperature
  • hematite (α-FeO)
  • mean inner potential (MIP)
  • off-axis electron holography
  • sapphire (α-AlO)


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