The structural characteristics of novel alkaline-earth suborthosilicate glasses along the compositional join (1 - x)(Ca(0.5)Mg(0.5)O) - xSiO(2) with 0.28 ≤ x ≤ 0.33 are investigated using high resolution (29)Si and (17)O nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The structures of these glasses consist of isolated Q(0) and Q(1) anionic species and Mg(2+) and Ca(2+) countercations that are held together by Coulombic interactions. The concentration of the Q(1) species rapidly decreases with decreasing SiO(2) content and becomes undetectable in the glass with x = 28 mol %. The compositional variation of the physical properties of these glasses such as glass transition temperature and density can be attributed to the Q-speciation in the structure. The NBOs are associated with a random distribution of the alkaline-earth cations in their nearest neighbor coordination shell. The resulting random packing of dissimilar Ca-NBO and Mg-NBO coordination polyhedra may give rise to structural and topological frustration responsible for the unusual glass-forming ability of these suborthosilicate liquids with extremely low SiO(2) contents. Finally, the composition and the formation of Q(1) species necessitate the formation of free O(2-) ions in the structure of these glasses that are only bonded to Mg(2+) and Ca(2+) cations. The (17)O NMR results presented in this study allow for direct observation of such oxygen species.
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