Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Anomalously large isotope effect in the glass transition of water.

PMID 25422420


We present the discovery of an unusually large isotope effect in the structural relaxation and the glass transition temperature Tg of water. Dielectric relaxation spectroscopy of low-density as well as of vapor-deposited amorphous water reveal Tg differences of 10 ± 2 K between H2O and D2O, sharply contrasting with other hydrogen-bonded liquids for which H/D exchange increases Tg by typically less than 1 K. We show that the large isotope effect and the unusual variation of relaxation times in water at low temperatures can be explained in terms of quantum effects. Thus, our findings shed new light on water's peculiar low-temperature dynamics and the possible role of quantum effects in its structural relaxation, and possibly in dynamics of other low-molecular-weight liquids.