A liquid with distinct metastable structures: Supercooled butyronitrile

Jan P. Gabriel, Erik Thoms, A. Guiseppi-Elie, M. D. Ediger, Ranko Richert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The dielectric relaxation behavior of the molecular glass former butyronitrile is revisited by measuring both bulk samples cooled from the melt and samples obtained by physical vapor deposition. We find that the dielectric constant in the viscous regime of the bulk liquid is much higher than reported previously, reaching ϵs = 63 at T = 103 K, i.e., just above the glass transition temperature Tg = 97 K. By contrast, varying the deposition temperature and rate of vapor-deposited samples leads to dielectric constants in a range between 4.5 and 63 at T = 103 K. Values much below ϵs = 63 persist for thousands of seconds, where the dielectric relaxation time is about 0.1 s. The observations can be interpreted by the formation of clusters in which pair-wise anti-parallel dipole orientation is the preferred state at temperatures well below the glass transition. These non-crystalline clusters are long-lived even above Tg, where the remaining volume fraction is in the state of the equilibrium polar liquid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)044501
JournalJournal of Chemical Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 28 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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