Quantum Electric Dipole Lattice

Water Molecules Confined to Nanocavities in Beryl
  • Martin DresselEmail author
  • Elena S. Zhukova
  • Victor G. Thomas
  • Boris P. Gorshunov


Water is subject to intense investigations due to its importance in biological matter but keeps many of its secrets. Here, we unveil an even other aspect by confining H2O molecules to nanosize cages. Our THz and infrared spectra of water in the gemstone beryl evidence quantum tunneling of H2O molecules in the crystal lattice. The water molecules are spread out when confined in a nanocage. In combination with low-frequency dielectric measurements, we were also able to show that dipolar coupling among the H2O molecules leads towards a ferroelectric state at low temperatures. Upon cooling, a ferroelectric soft mode shifts through the THz range. Only quantum fluctuations prevent perfect macroscopic order to be fully achieved. Beside the significance to life science and possible application, nanoconfined water may become the prime example of a quantum electric dipolar lattice.


Water Quantum tunneling Dipolar interaction Ferroelectricity Dielectric spectroscopy THz spectroscopy Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy 



We would like to thank all our collaborator who participated to the project over the years, and colleagues we had intense discussion with M.A. Belyanchikov, H.-P. Büchler, D.A. Fursenko, M. Fyta, V.S. Gorelik, U. Kaatze, C. Kadlec, F. Kadlec, L.S. Kadyrov, R.K. Kremer, V.V. Lebedev, T. Ostapchuk, E.V. Pestrjakov, J. Petzelt, A.S. Prokhorov, J. Prokleska, M. Savinov, G.S. Shakurov, J. Smiatek, P.V. Tomas, V.I. Torgashev, S. Tretiak, F. Uhlig, V.V. Uskov, and A. Zhugayevych.

Funding Information

The work was supported by the Russian Ministry of Education and Science (Program 5top100), MIPT grant for visiting professors and Project N3.9896.2017/BY.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.1. Physikalisches InstitutUniversität StuttgartStuttgartGermany
  2. 2.Sobolev Institute of Geology and Mineralogy, SB RASNovosibirskRussia
  3. 3.Novosibirsk State UniversityNovosibirskRussia
  4. 4.Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (State University)DolgoprudnyRussia

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