Ferroelectric phase transition in water molecules localized in mineral cordierite

Perex

We discovered that hydrogen bonds are eliminated and the Coulombic interactions dominate in water molecules localized in nano-channels of mineral cordierite. Their dipole moment is perpendicular to the channel axis c and our dielectric spectroscopy study have revealed their ordering at ~3 K. The critical relaxation tending to this ordering is polarized along the a-axis direction and lies in the radiofrequency range. Spontaneous polarization measurements yield the saturated value of ~3 nC/cm2 at 0.3 K.

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Water molecules localized in structural crystal nano-channels give a possibility to eliminate hydrogen bonds, dominating among water molecules at short distances up to ~2 Å which prevent ordering of their dipole moments. On larger distances 1-10 nm the Coulombic interactions dominate, which can lead to their ordering. We continued in our previous studies on beryl, where we, on cooling, have detected tendency to ferroelectric ordering, so called incipient ferroelectric behaviour. Mineral cordierite (Mg,Fe)2Al4Si5O18 also comprise structural channels similar to those in beryl, in which the chains of water molecules are ideally suited for the ordering study (Fig. 1).

Cordierite crystal structure
Description

Figure 1: Cordierite crystal structure. Investigated water was localized in the free channels along the c-axis.

Crystal structure is orthorhombic, the channels in the c-axis direction are in the distance of 9.9 Å and the water molecules in the channels are by 4.7 Å from each other. Their dipole moment is perpendicular to the channel axis and our dielectric spectroscopy study have revealed their ordering at ~3 K. The critical relaxation tending to this ordering is polarized along the a-axis direction and lies in the radiofrequency range (Fig. 2). Spontaneous polarization measurements yield the saturated value of ~3 nC/cm2 at 0.3 K. Molecular dynamics calculations show the ferroelectric ordering in the plane perpendicular to the channels and antiferroelectric ordering along them.

Feroelektrický fázový přechod vody v cordieritu
Description

Figure 2: Ferroelectric phase transition of water in cordierite is induced by a critical slowing down of dielectric relaxation. νp denotes frequency of the maxima in the dielectric loss spectra and τ denotes the relaxation time of the relaxation.

Contact person: RNDr. Stanislav Kamba, CSc.