skip to main content


This content will become publicly available on October 30, 2018

Title: Phase Transition of H 2 in Subnanometer Pores Observed at 75 K

In this paper, we report a phase transition in H 2 adsorbed in a locally graphitic Saran carbon with subnanometer pores 0.5–0.65 nm in width, in which two layers of hydrogen can just barely squeeze, provided they pack tightly. The phase transition is observed at 75 K, temperatures far higher than other systems in which an adsorbent is known to increase phase transition temperatures: for instance, H 2 melts at 14 K in the bulk, but at 20 K on graphite because the solid H 2 is stabilized by the surface structure. Here we observe a transition at 75 K and 77–200 bar: from a low-temperature, low-density phase to a high-temperature, higher density phase. We model the low-density phase as a monolayer commensurate solid composed mostly of para-H 2 (the ground nuclear spin state, S = 0) and the high-density phase as an orientationally ordered bilayer commensurate solid composed mostly of ortho-H 2 (S = 1). We attribute the increase in density with temperature to the fact that the oblong ortho-H 2 can pack more densely. The transition is observed using two experiments. The high-density phase is associated with an increase in neutron backscatter by a factor of 7.0 ±more » 0.1. Normally, hydrogen produces no backscatter (scattering angle >90°). This backscatter appears along with a discontinuous increase in the excitation mass from 1.2 amu to 21.0 ± 2.3 amu, which we associate with collective nuclear spin excitations in the orientationally ordered phase. Film densities were measured using hydrogen adsorption. Finally, no phase transition was observed in H 2 adsorbed in control activated carbon materials.« less
ORCiD logo [1] ;  [2] ; ORCiD logo [1] ;  [3] ;  [2] ;  [1]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States). Materials Science and Technology Division
  2. Univ. of Missouri, Columbia, MO (United States). Dept. of Physics and Astronomy
  3. Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), Didcot (United Kingdom). Rutherford Appleton Lab. ISIS Spallation Neutron Source
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
ACS Nano
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 11; Journal Issue: 11; Journal ID: ISSN 1936-0851
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States); Univ. of Missouri, Columbia, MO (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Fuel Cell Technologies Office (EE-3F); USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES) (SC-22)
Country of Publication:
United States
77 NANOSCIENCE AND NANOTECHNOLOGY; 36 MATERIALS SCIENCE; 37 INORGANIC, ORGANIC, PHYSICAL, AND ANALYTICAL CHEMISTRY; adsorption; carbon; hydrogen storage; neutron scattering; nuclear magnetism
OSTI Identifier:
Alternate Identifier(s):
OSTI ID: 1422614