Effects of Quantum Confinement of Hydrogen in Nanocavities – Experimental INS Results and New Insights


Current developments of non-relativistic quantum mechanics appear to predict, and reveal, counter-intuitive dynamical effects of hydrogen in nanostructured materials that are of considerable importance for basic research as well as for technological applications. In this review, the experimental focus is on H2O and H molecules in carbon nanotubes and other nanocavities that have been experimentally investigated using the well-established technique of incoherent inelastic neutron scattering (INS). For instance, the momentum and energy transfers, as obtained from the commonly used standard data analysis techniques, from a

(I) H2 molecule in a C-nanotube resulting in a roto-translational motion along the nanotube axis

seems to (1) either violate the standard conservation laws or (2) to attribute to the H molecule undergoing translation the effective mass a.m.u. (atomic mass units) instead of the expected 2 a.m.u. A similar striking anomalous effect has been found in the neutron-H scattering from the

(II) H2O molecules in nano-channels of some solid materials, in which O-H stretching vibrations along the channel axis are created.

The results of this scattering process seem to once again either violate the standard conservation laws or to attribute to the effective mass of the struck H2 molecule as a.m.u. instead of the expected value of 1 a.m.u. We show that these counterintuitive observations from the INS studies have no conventional interpretation within the standard non-relativistic scattering theory. However, they can be qualitatively interpreted “from first principles” within the framework of modern theories of

(III) time-symmetric quantum dynamics, as provided by the weak values (WV) and two-state- vector formalism (TSVF),


(IV) quantum correlations, especially quantum discord (QD) and quantum thermodynamics (QTD).

The theoretical analysis provides an intuitive understanding of the experimental results, gives strong evidence that the nano-structured cavities do represent quantum systems which participate significantly in the dynamics of the neutron-H scattering, and, surprisingly, shows that new physical information can be derived from the experimental data. This latter point may also have far-reaching consequences for technology and material sciences (e.g., fuel cells, H storage materials, etc.). Moreover, novel insights into the short-lived quantum dynamics and/or quantum information theory can be gained.

Related subjects: Applications & Pathways
Countries: Germany

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