H2-Oh! Scientists Show Water Can Exist as Two Different Liquids
Water is one of the most fundamental molecules on Earth, however, scientists are only beginning to wrap the head of the beauty of the substance.
In each case, researchers have now discovered that water does not exist, but two different liquid phases, each with large differences in structure and density.
Using X-rays to study H2O in an unprecedented detail, physicists at the University of Stockholm in Sweden have provided evidence that liquid water we know and love is not just a single phase, actually a fluctuation between two forms – high and low density.
“The new results give strong support to an image in which the water at room temperature can not decide which of the two forms should be high or low density, which causes local fluctuations between the two” said one of the researchers , Lars Pettersson GM.
“In a word: water is not a complicated liquid, but two unique liquid with a complicated relationship.”
Most of us learn in high school that water exists in three distinct phases: liquid water, solid ice, and water vapor.
But it is not so simple: water can also exist as a strange plasma state, and even the three-phase water standards that we know are stranger than you believe.
For example, with the exception of Mercury, water has the highest surface tension of any liquid, and unlike most other known substances, water expands when it freezes.
In addition, while the boiling points of other hydrides such as hydrogen telluride and hydrogen sulfide, decreased as their molecular size declines, H2O has a surprisingly large boiling point for one as low molecular weight.
In fact, scientists have identified 70 properties of liquid water that are completely different from the rest of the liquid substances we know.
Strange that has long been debated is whether there is more than one liquid phase of water. This idea is based on the fact that researchers already know that ice can exist in different forms of high and low density.
We are not talking about the ice coming out of its ice trays here called ice crystals, which is very neat, with all its individual molecules lined up in a recurring pattern.
But ice is also in another form known as amorphous ice, where molecules are disordered. Although not something we know more, amorphous ice is probably the most widespread type of solid-state water in the universe, and it can change between different high and low density versions.
For this reason, the researchers suspected that liquid water could do the same. But until now, no one could study their molecular modulations enough to understand exactly what was happening.
The new research uses two different types of x-ray images to track the movement and distance between the H2O molecules when the water was from an amorphous, vitreous liquid and frozen to a viscous liquid, and another lower even more viscous density.
What they saw was evidence of two distinct liquid phases.
“The new property is remarkable that we find that water can exist in two different liquids at low temperatures where ice crystallization is slow,” said Anders Nilsson, one of the researchers.
This is, of course, only one study, and other independent teams will now conduct their own audit research to back up the application before rewriting textbooks.
But this is not the first time scientists have fallen into a second state of strange liquid water.
Last year, a team from Oxford University also showed that between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit (104 degrees Fahrenheit), liquid water could “change state” and introduce a completely new set of properties depending on the state shed.
It is important to note that this new research adds another important piece of the puzzle that begins to reveal little by little how this ubiquitous molecule is strange and fascinating.