Ultra-confinement: The Mysteries of Ancient Water Imprisoned in Sub-Nano Channels in Natural Minerals

  Paul Ben Ishai   
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Ariel University

The water molecule is a conundrum of physics.  A seemingly simple molecule with a not very impressive dipole moment, it is a delinquent in every sense of the word.  Exhibiting over 64 anomalous behavioral traits, much of this behavior can be linked to its ability to form Hydrogen bonds and complex liquid structures. Yet it can be tamed of sorts by imprisonment. Certain naturally occurring minerals, such as Beryl and Cordereite, contain sub-nano diameter channels as an integral part of the crystal lattice.  The diameter of these spaces is often of the same order of magnitude as the diameter of a water molecule, 4-5 Å.  Under such conditions water entrapped in them at the time of formation (hence “Ancient”), but not chemically bound, can no longer behave as “water”. But rather than conform, these extreme conditions lead to unusual behaviours. Concepts like H-bonding and clustering are now not relevant and a new class of dynamics must arise for these molecules. These crystals are, per force, highly anisotropic, leading to very different dielectric properties depending of the crystal axis chosen. DC conductivity is sometimes present, but not necessarily along the water channels. In this paper we shall explore some of these consequences.