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Monday, February 7, 2011

A new quantum state of water

A recent publication scientist discovered that "water is confinned on scales of 20 A, this wave function responds to the details of the confi nement, corresponds to a strongly anharmonic local potential, shows evidence in some cases of coherent delocalization in double wells, and involves changes in zero point kinetic energy of the protons from -40 to +120 meV di erence from that of bulk water at room temperature. This behavior appears to be a generic feature of nanoscale confi nement."

George Reiter of the University of Houston and colleagues study in detail the key to water's unusual properties – the hydrogen bond. This is the bond between water molecules, connecting the oxygen atom of one molecule to the hydrogen atom in another.[...]They found that the momentum distribution of the protons was strongly temperature dependent, with as much as 50% more kinetic energy than the electrostatic model predicts at low temperatures and 20% more kinetic energy at room temperature. The electrostatic model gives broadly the correct values for bulk water at room temperature.The team argues that this is evidence that the protons exist in a previously unobserved quantum state when water is confined to a very tiny volume – a state that is not described by the electrostatic model.[...]
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