Aims: We investigate the mineralogy and dust processing in the circumbinary discs of binary post-AGB stars using high-resolution TIMMI2 and SPITZER infrared spectra.
Methods: We perform a full spectral fitting to the infrared spectra using the most recent opacities of amorphous and crystalline dust species. This allows for the identification of the carriers of the different emission bands. Our fits also constrain the physical properties of different dust species and grain sizes responsible for the observed emission features.
Results: In all stars the dust is oxygen-rich: amorphous and crystalline silicate dust species prevail and no features of a carbon-rich component can be found, the exception being EP Lyr, where a mixed chemistry of both oxygen- and carbon-rich species is found. Our full spectral fitting indicates a high degree of dust grain processing. The mineralogy of our sample stars shows that the dust is constituted of irregularly shaped and relatively large grains, with typical grain sizes larger than 2 μm. The spectra of nearly all stars show a high degree of crystallinity, where magnesium-rich end members of olivine and pyroxene silicates dominate. Other dust features of e.g. silica or alumina are not present at detectable levels. Temperature estimates from our fitting routine show that a significant fraction of grains must be cool, significantly cooler than the glass temperature. This shows that radial mixing is very efficient is these discs and/or indicates different thermal conditions at grain formation. Our results show that strong grain processing is not limited to young stellar objects and that the physical processes occurring in the discs are very similar to those in protoplanetary discs.