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Order Parameter of the Liquid–Liquid Transition in a Molecular Liquid

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journal contribution
posted on 17.12.2015, 06:41 by Joanna Mosses, Christopher D. Syme, Klaas Wynne
Liquid–liquid transitions (LLTs) between amorphous phases of a single (chemically unchanged) liquid were predicted to occur in most molecular liquids but have only been observed in triphenyl phosphite (TPP) and n-butanol, and even these examples have been dismissed as “aborted crystallization”. One of the foremost reasons that LLTs remain so controversial is the lack of an obvious order parameter, that is, a physical parameter characterizing the phase transition. Here, using the technique of fluorescence lifetime imaging, we show for the first time that the LLT in TPP is characterized by a change in polarity linked to changes in molecular ordering associated with crystal polymorphs. We conclude that the LLT in TPP is a phase transition associated with frustrated molecular clusters, explaining the paucity of examples of LLTs seen in nature.