Dehydration of a Crystal Hydrate at Subglacial Temperatures

April 20, 2023


Dehydration of a Crystal Hydrate at Subglacial Temperatures


Eaby, Alan C., Dirkie C. Myburgh, Akmal Kosimov, Marcin Kwit, Catharine Esterhuysen, Agnieszka M. Janiak, and Leonard J. Barbour






Water is one of the most important substances on our planet1. It is ubiquitous in its solid, liquid and vaporous states and all known biological systems depend on its unique chemical and physical properties. Moreover, many materials exist as water adducts, chief among which are crystal hydrates (a specific class of inclusion compound), which usually retain water indefinitely at subambient temperatures2. We describe a porous organic crystal that readily and reversibly adsorbs water into 1-nm-wide channels at more than 55% relative humidity. The water uptake/release is chromogenic, thus providing a convenient visual indication of the hydration state of the crystal over a wide temperature range. The complementary techniques of X-ray diffraction, optical microscopy, differential scanning calorimetry and molecular simulations were used to establish that the nanoconfined water is in a state of flux above −70 °C, thus allowing low-temperature dehydration to occur. We were able to determine the kinetics of dehydration over a wide temperature range, including well below 0 °C which, owing to the presence of atmospheric moisture, is usually challenging to accomplish. This discovery unlocks opportunities for designing materials that capture/release water over a range of temperatures that extend well below the freezing point of bulk water.




Channel hydrates