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Direct observation of symmetrization of hydrogen bond in δ-AlOOH under mantle conditions using neutron diffraction...

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Scientific Reports
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At ambient pressure, the hydrogen bond in materials such as ice, hydrates, and hydrous minerals that compose the Earth and icy planets generally takes an asymmetric O-H···O configuration. Pressure significantly affects this configuration, and it is predicted to become symmetric, such that the hydrogen is centered between the two oxygen atoms at high pressure. Changes of physical properties of minerals relevant to this symmetrization have been found; however, the atomic configuration around this symmetrization has remained elusive so far. Here we observed the pressure response of the hydrogen bonds in the aluminous hydrous minerals δ-AlOOH and δ-AlOOD by means of a neutron diffraction experiment. We find that the transition from P21nm to Pnnm at 9.0 GPa, accompanied by a change in the axial ratios of δ-AlOOH, corresponds to the disorder of hydrogen bond between two equivalent sites across the center of the O···O line. Symmetrization of the hydrogen bond is observed at 18.1 GPa, which is considerably higher than the disorder pressure. Moreover, there is a significant isotope effect on hydrogen bond geometry and transition pressure. This study indicates that disorder of the hydrogen bond as a precursor of symmetrization may also play an important role in determining the physical properties of minerals such as bulk modulus and seismic wave velocities in the Earth’s mantle.