It's chemical formula is one that nearly everyone knows regardless of their background. Water has a very simplistic structure as well so what else can we learn about water?
It turns out there is still a lot we can learn about water as was exhibited by two papers that were published in a recent issue of the journal Nature.
|Image of the electron localization of water|
The second paper could go a long way toward providing the experimental evidence necessary to study water under different conditions. In this paper scientists at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center used the Linac Coherent Light Source X-ray laser to collect rapid-fire snapshots of waters molecular structure in the instant before it freezes.
For their experiments the researchers produced a steady stream of very pure water droplets in a vacuum that were directed toward a laser that was pulsing with a femtosecond shutter speed. As the water traveled towards the laser beam some of the liquid evaporated supercooling the remaining water to temperatures below minus 42 F ( -41 C). Their results showed the molecular structure of water is continuously transforming just before freezing and further cooling dramatically accelerates the structural changes observed. It is hoped that by pushing these experiments into colder regions closer to the transition to a solid that they will be able to identity the theories that best explain waters behavior.
Some information for this post was obtained from the Science Daily articles:
Familiar yet strange: Water's split personality revealed by computer model
Scientist take first dip into water's mysterious 'no man's land'
Original articles are:
J.C. Palmer et al Metastable liquid–liquid transition in a molecular model of water. Nature, 2014; 510 (7505): 385
J.A. Sellberg et al Ultrafast X-ray probing of water structure below the homogeneous ice nucleation temperature. Nature, 2014; 510 (7505): 381