Water separates into two different liquids at low temperatures: research


Going beyond the popular belief that water can exist in three main physical states, researchers from the University of Birmingham and Sapienza Università di Roma have unveiled a unique property that water can change in a so-called phase transition, turning into two different liquids. This idea was first proposed three decades ago. However, this phase transition takes place at extremely cold temperatures.

In our common knowledge, we’ve been taught that water solidifies at low temperatures, and practically it does, which has remained the biggest challenge in confirming the theory, baffling scientists for almost 30 years.

The researchers stated that the reason for the liquid-liquid transition remains largely unknown, since the hidden chemistry in the water is responsible for this phenomenon.

The results of the study published in the journal natural physicsstate that a prominent feature of liquid water is the anomalous behavior of its thermodynamic response functions upon cooling, the best known being the maximum density at ambient pressure.

Francesco Sciortino, a professor at Sapienza Università di Roma and co-author of the study, was part of the original team that proposed the idea of ​​a liquid-liquid phase transition in water in 1992. He said: “In this work, we propose for the first time a view of the liquid-liquid phase transition based on network entanglement ideas. I am sure that this work will inspire novel theoretical models based on topological concepts.”

To explain the phenomenon, we need to understand the molecular structure and connections, while the molecules in the high-density liquid form are arranged to resemble a pretzel, they are entangled, while the molecules in the low-density form are so mostly have rings and are therefore unraveled overplayed.

According to the University of Birmingham, the researchers used a colloidal water model in their simulation and then two widely used molecular water models. Colloids are particles that can be thousands of times larger than a single water molecule. Due to their relatively larger size and thus slower movements.

dr Dwaipayan Chakrabarti, the lead author of the article, said in a statement, “This colloidal water model provides a magnifying glass for molecular water and allows us to unravel the mysteries of water related to the history of two liquids.”

Sciortino added: “Water reveals its secrets one by one! Dream how nice it would be if we could see into the liquid and watch the water molecules dance, flicker and change partners. Reorganization of the hydrogen bond network.”

The team expects that the model they have developed will pave the way for new experiments that will validate the theory and extend the concept of ‘entangled’ liquids to other liquids such as silicon.

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