- © The Mineralogical Society Of America
An understanding of chemical bonding and electronic structure in sulfide minerals is central to any attempt at understanding their crystal structures, stabilities and physical properties. It is also an essential precursor to understanding reactivity through modeling surface structure at the molecular scale. In recent decades, there have been remarkable advances in first principles (ab initio) methods for the quantitative calculation of electronic structure. These advances have been made possible by the very rapid development of high performance computers. Several review volumes that chart the applications of these developments in mineralogy and geochemistry are available (Tossell and Vaughan 1992; Cygan and Kubicki 2001).
An important feature of the sulfide minerals is the diversity of their electronic structures, as evidenced by their electrical and magnetic properties (see Pearce et al. 2006, this volume). Thus, sulfide minerals range from insulators through semiconductors to metals, and exhibit every type of magnetic behavior. This has presented problems for those attempting to develop bonding models for sulfides, and also led to certain misconceptions regarding the kinds of models that may be appropriate.
In this chapter, chemical bonding and electronic structure models for sulfides are reviewed with emphasis on more recent developments. Although the fully ab initio quantitative methods are now capable of a remarkable degree of sophistication in terms of agreement with experiment and potential to interpret and predict behavior with varying conditions, both qualitative and more simplistic quantitative approaches will also be briefly discussed. This is because we believe that the insights which they provide are still helpful to those studying sulfide minerals. In addition to the application of electronic structure models and calculations to solid sulfides, work on sulfide mineral surfaces (Rosso and Vaughan 2006a,b) and solution complexes and clusters (Rickard and Luther 2006) are discussed in detail later …