Different behavior of water in confined solutions of high and low solute concentrations
Journal article, 2013
Water-glycerol solutions confined in 21 angstrom pores of the silica matrix MCM-41 C10 have been studied using differential scanning calorimetry (DSC) and broadband dielectric spectroscopy (BDS). The results suggest a micro-phase separation caused by the confinement. Likely the water molecules coordinate to the hydroxyl surface groups of the pores, leaving most of the glycerol molecules in the centre of the pores. This makes the dynamics of glycerol almost concentration independent up to water concentrations of about 85 wt%. However, at higher water concentrations no substantial clustering of glycerol molecules should occur and the glass transition related dynamics exhibit an anomalous behaviour. Instead of a common plasticization effect of water, as for the corresponding bulk solutions (when no ice is formed), it is evident that water acts as an anti-plasticizer in the confinement at high water concentrations. We propose that the increased water concentration slows down the glass transition related dynamics in the deeply supercooled regime due to that a rigid hydrogen bonded network structure of water molecules is formed at low temperatures and low glycerol concentrations. This is in contrast to the situation in a homogenously mixed bulk solution of a high solute concentration where the water molecules will be less hydrogen bonded, and therefore are typically more mobile than the surrounding solute molecules. An almost complete hydrogen bonded network of water molecules may, even in confinements, be sufficiently rigid to slow down the relaxation of embedded solute molecules. It can also be expressed the other way around, i.e. small amounts of glycerol act as a plasticizer for water, due to its breaking up of the nearly tetrahedral network structure. From the here observed concentration dependent behaviour of the deeply supercooled bulk and confined solutions it seems, furthermore, evident that the T-g value of bulk water cannot be estimated from extrapolations of aqueous solutions.