New paper published in Nature Communications: Dielectric ordering of water molecules arranged in a dipolar lattice

August 11, 2020

Results of international collaboration between PI1 and colleagues published in Nature Communications

Intermolecular hydrogen bonds impede long-range (anti-)ferroelectric order of water. We confine H2O molecules in nanosized cages formed by ions of a dielectric crystal. Arranging them in channels at a distance of ~5 Å with an interchannel separation of ~10 Å prevents the formation of hydrogen networks while electric dipole-dipole interactions remain effective. Here, we present measurements of the temperature-dependent dielectric permittivity, pyrocurrent, electric polarization and specific heat that indicate an order-disorder ferroelectric phase transition at T0 ≈ 3 K in the water dipolar lattice. Ab initio molecular dynamics and classical Monte Carlo simulations reveal that at low temperatures the water molecules form ferroelectric domains in the ab-plane that order antiferroelectrically along the channel direction. This way we achieve the long-standing goal of arranging water molecules in polar order.
This is not only of high relevance in various natural systems but might open an avenue towards future applications in biocompatible nanoelectronics.

Nature Communications

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