Water has been taken for granted since we have it, but absolutely no one can deny it’s a very special substance. It makes life on Earth Possible and it’s unique properties just got another gain.
Some very smart people took a look at two special phases of water called high-density and low-density amorphous ice, and what they found is that it changes into two different types of liquid water.
The research, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was able to track the movement of the molecules as the water changed from high-density to low-density amorphous ice.
“I have studied amorphous ices for a long time with the goal to determine whether they can be considered a glassy state representing a frozen liquid,” co-author Katrin Amann-Winkel, researcher in chemical physics at Stockholm University, said in a statement. “It is a dream come true to follow in such detail how a glassy state of water transforms into a viscous liquid which almost immediately transforms to a different, even more vicious, liquid of much lower density.”
The amorphous ice phase is achieved when water molecules are frozen way below 0°C (32°F). Due to factors like how quickly the freezing happens or if the pressure is particularly high, the ice might not become crystalline. While the ice we make in a freezer is crystalline, the amorphous ice on Earth is mostly formed in labs.
Amorphous ice is only found in the top layers of the atmosphere, but most importantly, in interstellar clouds, which allows it to be the most common structure for water molecules in the universe. Add this to the already unusual properties and you get something which is a very interesting object of research.
So what was used to conduct the study? Answer:
Two sophisticated X-ray lasers – the Argonne National Laboratory near Chicago and the large X-ray laboratory DESY in Hamburg, Germany. The first allowed them to show that the two substances were different and the second allowed them to prove that the substances are indeed liquid.
“The new results give very strong support to a picture where water at room temperature can’t decide in which of the two forms it should be, high or low density, which results in local fluctuations between the two,” added Lars G.M. Pettersson, professor in theoretical chemical physics at Stockholm University. “In a nutshell: Water is not a complicated liquid, but two simple liquids with a complicated relationship.”
As water is an important aspect of our everyday lives, we can comfortably say that this research has huge potential. We’ll have to wait and see what follow-up studies will be able to do and reveal the mystery that is water.
Original article here.