Molecular structural order and anomalies in liquid silica

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217 Scopus citations


The present investigation examines the relationship between structural order, diffusivity anomalies, and density anomalies in liquid silica by means of molecular dynamics simulations. We use previously defined orientational and translational order parameters to quantify local structural order in atomic configurations. Extensive simulations are performed at different state points to measure structural order, diffusivity, and thermodynamic properties. It is found that silica shares many trends recently reported for water [J. R. Errington and P. G. Debenedetti, Nature 409, 318 (2001)]. At intermediate densities, the distribution of local orientational order is bimodal. At fixed temperature, order parameter extrema occur upon compression: a maximum in orientational order followed by a minimum in translational order. Unlike water, however, silica’s translational order parameter minimum is broad, and there is no range of thermodynamic conditions where both parameters are strictly coupled. Furthermore, the temperature-density regime where both structural order parameters decrease upon isothermal compression (the structurally anomalous regime) does not encompass the region of diffusivity anomalies, as was the case for water.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability


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