Quantum Electric Dipole Lattice: Water Molecules Confined to Nanocavities in Beryl

Martin Dressel, Elena S. Zhukova, Victor G. Thomas, Boris P. Gorshunov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-815
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Infrared, Millimeter, and Terahertz Waves
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2018


  • Dielectric spectroscopy
  • Dipolar interaction
  • Ferroelectricity
  • Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy
  • Quantum tunneling
  • THz spectroscopy
  • Water
  • D2O
  • H2O
  • ICE


Dive into the research topics of 'Quantum Electric Dipole Lattice: Water Molecules Confined to Nanocavities in Beryl'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this