Water reveals its secrets.  Scientists are watching hydrogen bonds

The “quantum force of attraction” between water molecules has finally been measured. Scientists have conducted studies that shed new light on hydrogen bonds. Thanks to them, water has wonderful properties and plays an important role in many biological processes.

Water is all around us. It covers up to 71% of the Earth, although only 2.5% is fresh water. H . game2O is one of nature’s least understood fluids – it exhibits many strange behaviors that cannot be explained to this day. One might even wonder how water can have the highest density at a temperature of about 3.8NSC, just above the freezing point. However, most liquids thicken as the temperature decreases. Water also has a high surface tension, which allows insects to walk on its surface, as well as a high heat storage capacity, which provides stable living conditions for ocean-dwelling organisms.

scientists z Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and Stockholm University first direct observation of how hydrogen atoms in water molecules pull and push on neighboring molecules when excited by a laser. Why is this an important discovery? The results of these studies may explain the unusual properties of water. They can also help understand the role of H.2around in our body.

Although it has been speculated that this so-called nuclear quantum effect underlies many of the peculiar properties of water, it was first observed directly in this experiment. The question is, could this quantum effect be the missing link in theoretical models describing the anomalous properties of water?

the professor. Anders Nilsson from Stockholm University

The best recognizable chemical formula in the world

The chemical formula for water – H.2Oh – says it all. The molecule is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom, but the hydrogen bonds that connect the individual molecules seem to be key. Many scientists believe that hydrogen bonds are the cause of many of the unusual properties of water. For a long time, no direct interactions between H . molecules could be observed2Oh, but now it has changed.

The low mass of hydrogen atoms enhances their quantum nature. This study is the first to directly show that the response of the hydrogen bond network to an energy pulse depends on the quantum mechanical nature of the way hydrogen atoms are distributed, which has long been suggested to be responsible for the unique features of water and its hydrogen bond network.

Kelly Gaffney of the Stanford Pulse Institute at SLAC

Observing hydrogen interactions between different water molecules has been impossible until now – there was no device with sufficient sensitivity to be able to monitor them. Thanks to the use of the MeV-UED, a high-speed electronic camera that detects even the smallest particle vibrations by scattering a laser beam.

Hydrogen bonds between water molecules

In the experience detailed in temper natureA stream of liquid water just 100 nanometers thick was used – 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. The water molecules that compose it were vibrated by a laser beam as well as short, high-energy pulses of the MeV-UED. As a result, it was possible to obtain a high resolution of the variable atomic structures of H.2s.

Something amazing happens in the water during the laser pulse. It was found that when the excited molecule begins to vibrate, the hydrogen atoms that make it attract the oxygen atoms of neighboring water molecules and then repel them with great force, increasing the distance between them. This is a unique phenomenon that we do not observe in other liquids.

What do these discoveries tell us about water?

SLAC experiments are only the first step toward understanding the quantitative nature of hydrogen bonds and the role they play in many biological and chemical processes. Some are even talking about a new “water test window”. This could be a real breakthrough in understanding water better – both on Earth and on other planets.

It really opened a new window for testing the waters. Now that we can finally see the movement of hydrogen bonds, we’d like to put it in a broader context that can shed light on how water led to the creation and survival of life on Earth, as well as pointing to the direction of future renewable energy methods.

Xijie Wang, SLAC Research Fellow and Research Associate

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