Local number fluctuations in ordered and disordered phases of water across temperatures: Higher-order moments and degrees of tetrahedrality

Michael A. Klatt, Jaeuk Kim, Thomas E. Gartner, Salvatore Torquato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The isothermal compressibility (i.e., related to the asymptotic number variance) of equilibrium liquid water as a function of temperature is minimal under near-ambient conditions. This anomalous non-monotonic temperature dependence is due to a balance between thermal fluctuations and the formation of tetrahedral hydrogen-bond networks. Since tetrahedrality is a many-body property, it will also influence the higher-order moments of density fluctuations, including the skewness and kurtosis. To gain a more complete picture, we examine these higher-order moments that encapsulate many-body correlations using a recently developed, advanced platform for local density fluctuations. We study an extensive set of simulated phases of water across a range of temperatures (80-1600 K) with various degrees of tetrahedrality, including ice phases, equilibrium liquid water, supercritical water, and disordered nonequilibrium quenches. We find clear signatures of tetrahedrality in the higher-order moments, including the skewness and excess kurtosis, which scale for all cases with the degree of tetrahedrality. More importantly, this scaling behavior leads to non-monotonic temperature dependencies in the higher-order moments for both equilibrium and non-equilibrium phases. Specifically, under near-ambient conditions, the higher-order moments vanish most rapidly for large length scales, and the distribution quickly converges to a Gaussian in our metric. However, under non-ambient conditions, higher-order moments vanish more slowly and hence become more relevant, especially for improving information-theoretic approximations of hydrophobic solubility. The temperature non-monotonicity that we observe in the full distribution across length scales could shed light on water’s nested anomalies, i.e., reveal new links between structural, dynamic, and thermodynamic anomalies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number204502
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number20
StatePublished - May 28 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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