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Manganese oxide is the blackish brown solid mineral pyrolusite MnO2. It is the principal ore of manganese, and it is used as the active component of dry cell batteries. It is also a pigment and an effective reducing agent for certain organic compounds.
It has a wide variety of structural, magnetic, catalytic and transport properties. It plays important roles in the elemental cycles of terrestrial and aquatic environments and is essential for life on Earth. The remarkable diversity of the layered and tunnel structures of complex manganese oxides governs their unique physicochemical properties.
When the dimensions of these oxides shrink into the nanometer regime, they change their properties primarily through changes in lattice symmetry and structure. The atomic arrangements change due to alteration of the crystallographic orientations and oxygen vacancies. The vacancies are the active sites for redox reactions.
The dimensional changes in these complex oxides also affect the molecular properties. For instance, the water coverage of hausmannite, bixbyite, and pyrolusite differs by as much as 3.3, 4.8, and 9.3 molecules per nm-2 respectively. The resulting difference in surface enthalpy of chemisorption explains the order of formation of these phases: bixbyite, pyrolusite, and hausmannite.
Human exposure to manganese dust particles, especially those with a high concentration of hematite, leads to pulmonary nephritis (heavy metal poisoning). Manganese inhalation is also linked to skeletal diseases and heart attacks.