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J Phys Chem A. 2018 Aug 23;122(33):6736-6745. doi: 10.1021/acs.jpca.8b05028. Epub 2018 Aug 8.

Effects of Confinement and Pressure on the Vibrational Behavior of Nano-Confined Propane.

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School of Earth Sciences , The Ohio State University , Columbus , 43210 , Ohio United States.
State Key Laboratory of Inorganic Synthesis and Preparative Chemistry, College of Chemistry , Jilin University , Changchun 130012 , China.


Fluids confined in nanopores exhibit significant deviations in their structure and dynamics from the bulk behavior. Although phase, structural, and diffusive behaviors of confined fluids have been investigated and reported extensively, confinement effects on the vibrational properties are less understood. We study the vibrational behavior of propane confined in 1.5 nm nanopores of MCM-41-S using inelastic neutron scattering (INS) and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Vibrational spectra have been obtained from INS data as functions of temperature and pressure. At ambient pressure, a strong quasielastic signal observed in the INS spectrum at 80 K suggests that confined propane remains liquid below the bulk phase melting point of 85 K. The quasielastic signal is heavily suppressed when either the pressure is increased to 1 kbar or the temperature is lowered to 30 K, indicating solidification of pore-confined propane. Confinement in MCM-41-S pores results in a glass-like state of propane that exhibits a relatively featureless low-energy vibrational spectrum compared to that of the bulk crystalline propane. Increasing the pressure to 3 kbar results in hardening of the intermolecular and methyl torsional modes. The INS data are used for estimating the isochoric specific heat of confined propane, which is compared with the specific heat of bulk propane reported in literature. Data from MD simulations are used to calculate the vibrational power spectra that agree qualitatively with the experimental data. Simulation data also suggest a reduction of the structural ordering (positional, orientational, and intramolecular) of propane under confinement.


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