Scientists discover fourth state for water molecules

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Scientists discover fourth state for water molecules

We all know water molecules are found in three states only that are solid, liquid and gas. However, something unusual was observed in behavior of water molecules by scientists from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The researchers realized they have found a new state for water molecules. They came to their finding after subjecting water molecules to extreme confinement.

The new state is described by researchers in the journal Physical Review Letters. According to that, water molecules became delocalized around a ring when they were pushed into nanoscale tubes. Each molecule adopted shape similar to an unusual double top. Every atom is about one angstrom in diameter and an angstrom is 110-billionth of a meter.

The experiment which led to the discovery demonstrated features of water under ultra confinement that are observed in rocks, soil and cell walls. The experiments were conducted at ORNL's Spallation Neutron Source and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the UK. The discovery of spread of water molecules when confined was much unexpected and it broke the rules of classical physics.

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The molecules passed through a barrier without needing any energy to do same. The process is known as tunneling. The tunneling state of water would help scientists describe the thermodynamic properties and behavior of water in highly confined environments.

"This means that the oxygen and hydrogen atoms of the water molecule are delocalized and therefore simultaneously present in all six symmetrically equivalent positions in the channel at the same time. It's one of those phenomena that only occur in quantum mechanics,” said lead study author Alexander Kolesnikov, of ORNL's Chemical and Engineering Materials Division.

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