Nature of the metal-nonmetal transition in metal-ammonia solutions. I. Solvated electrons at low metal concentrations

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Chuev, Gennady N.
Quemerais, Pascal
Crain, Jason
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Using a theory of polarizable fluids, we extend a variational treatment of an excess electron to the many-electron case corresponding to finite metal concentrations in metal-ammonia solutions (MAS). We evaluate dielectric, optical, and thermodynamical properties of MAS at low metal concentrations. Our semi-analytical calculations based on a mean-spherical approximation correlate well with the experimental data on the concentration and the temperature dependencies of the dielectric constant and the optical absorption spectrum. The properties are found to be mainly determined by the induced dipolar interactions between localized solvated electrons, which result in the two main effects: the dispersion attractions between the electrons and a sharp increase in the static dielectric constant of the solution. The first effect provides a classical phase separation for the light alkali metal solutes (Li, Na, K) below a critical temperature. The second effect leads to a dielectric instability, i.e., polarization catastrophe, which is the onset of metallization. The locus of the calculated critical concentrations is in a good agreement with the experimental phase diagram of Na-NH3 solutions. The proposed mechanism of the metal-nonmetal transition is quite general and may occur in systems involving self-trapped quantum quasiparticles.
Comment: 13 figures, 42 pages
Keywords
Condensed Matter - Statistical Mechanics, Condensed Matter - Strongly Correlated Electrons
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