Erko, M.; Wallacher, D.; Hoell, A.; Hauß, T.; Zizak, I.; Paris, O.: Density minimum of confined water at low temperatures: a combined study by small-angle scattering of X-rays and neutrons. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics 14 (2012), p. 3852-3858

A simple explanation is given for the low-temperature density minimum of water confined within cylindrical pores of ordered nanoporous materials of different pore size. The experimental evidence is based on combined data from in-situ small-angle scattering of X-rays (SAXS) and neutrons (SANS), corroborated by additional wide-angle X-ray scattering (WAXS). The combined scattering data cannot be described by a homogeneous density distribution of water within the pores, as was originally suggested from SANS data alone. A two-step density model reveals a wall layer covering approximately two layers of water molecules with higher density than the residual core water in the central part of the pores. The temperature-induced changes of the scattering signal from both X-rays and neutrons are consistent with a minimum of the average water density. We show that the temperature at which this minimum occurs depends monotonically on the pore size. Therefore we attribute this minimum to a liquid–solid transition of water influenced by confinement. For water confined in the smallest pores of only 2 nm in diameter, the density minimum is explained in terms of a structural transition of the surface water layer closest to the hydrophilic pore walls.