Physics arranged an electric dipole lattice of water molecules

Physicists have found experimentally the transition groups of the water molecules placed in cavities of the crystal lattice of cordierite, in a state in which electric dipoles of these molecules form an ordered structure. The result is important both from a fundamental point of view, a reliable experimental observation of such phase transitions in the laboratory had previously presented difficulties and practical — ordered an electric dipole lattice of water molecules may find applications in nanoelectronics (including biocompatible), as well as to help scientists in the creation of artificial quantum systems. Article published in the journal Nature.

When there is a need to describe the electromagnetic field of complex systems (such as molecules) at distances which greatly exceed the dimensions of the system, physicists use the dipole approximation. In this approximation, the role of the real object performs a simple idealized system — the dipole, where the field (magnetic or electric) dipole with the required accuracy corresponds to the present and describes a vector physical quantity — dipole moment.

Thus, for the study of electromagnetic properties of substance is useful to consider it as a group of molecules, each of which has a certain dipole moment. When creating special conditions — for example, application of an external field or cooling, the dipoles can be arranged in an ordered structure, and the substance itself is to be unavailable in the standard state properties that are useful in practice. To date, an ordered state in a large number of well-known for systems of magnetic dipoles, while the experimental study of electric — less extensive, and still remain challenging.

Scientists from Germany,, Czech Republic and Japan under the leadership of Mikhail Belyanchikova (M. A. Belyanchikov) from the Moscow physical-technical Institute experimentally discovered and investigated one of the ordered States of an electric dipole lattice of water system of regularly spaced molecules of H2O. Due to the prevalence of this fluid in the environment, the search for such configurations is of interest, including, from the perspective of the study of natural systems and the development of biocompatible technologies. However, in the laboratory of the group of molecules H2O in the form of a standard liquid or ice, you cannot bring in the desired state — that hinder hydrogen bonding — electrostatic interaction between molecules, which do not allow the dipole moments to line up in the desired configuration.

To overcome the influence of hydrogen bonds, physics placed water molecules in nano-sized (millionths of a millimeter) pores natural crystal cordierite — as a result, the distance between the molecules made up of 5-10 angstroms (one Angstrom is ten-millionth part of a millimeter and approximately corresponds to the distance between oxygen and hydrogen in the water molecule), while the hydrogen bonds are manifested at the scale of 1-2 Angstrom. Thus far preserved the interaction between electric dipole moments, which is typical for distances of 10-100 Angstrom water molecules formed a three-dimensional grid of an electric dipole.

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