In a mono-molecule layer, water can act as if it is neither a solid nor a liquid

We might think we know how water behaves, but we ignore what happens when it gets into spaces so small that it’s only one molecule thick. The results turned out to be very different from water in large quantities.

waters Three familiar phases of matter – solid, liquid and gaseous – can lead to icebergs when they meet. However, like the metaphorical counterpart, there is a lot going on that we can’t see, including many phases of matter which exist only under harsh conditions. more of these frequently discovered Where we learn to approach and measure matter in new ways.

The most recent examples occur when water is trapped in conditions where a plate is one molecule thick, at which point several phases can occur sequentially. Unlike some other phases of matter, not all of these phases require huge amounts of energy or pressure to perform. Instead, the challenge has been observing their behavior and understanding the structures, which is now addressed in a research paper published in temper nature.

Using computational modeling of water within the small graphene Channel, Dr. Venkat Kapil From the University of Cambridge and colleagues found that at low pressure, water forms a phase that matches the mass of the ice – other than having a melting point about 100°C lower than the 3D version – with the molecules arranged in a hexagonal fashion.

With increasing pressure or temperature, the molecules rearrange themselves in first pentagons and then rhombic shapes. At pressures that the authors call “intermediate” (about 8000 atmospheres), the water enters what the authors call the “hexagonal” phase. Here water somehow behaves between solid and liquid, with fixed but rotating particles, until temperatures rise above 70 °C (158).°F).

Schematic diagram of the way water molecules organize themselves under varying pressures in a water monolayer. Image Credit: Kapil et al / Nature

As the pressures increase further, the water becomes super-ionic. It is more like ice than water, but it is highly conductive of electricity. However, the current is not carried by the protons, not the electrons. Bulk water can contain supra-ionic phase Well, but you need a lot more pressure to make it happen.

Other phases of matter, such as those that occur at extremely cold temperatures or under extreme pressures, are sometimes of more curious value than practical application, but that is not necessarily the case here. Small cavities exist in all kinds of porous materials, and thick, single-molecule layers can occur between membranes whether we need them or not.

The authors argue that our bodies have some of these phases when interior spaces are too small for bulk water, and their response can affect the effectiveness of medical treatments. Along the same lines, batteries Desalination projects have involved water in these stages for a long time, and we didn’t know how they would affect production.

Kapil said in statement. “Our approach allows the study of a single layer of water in a graphene-like channel with unprecedented predictive accuracy.”

The hexagonal phase behavior reported by the authors largely matches previous predictions, but the hyperalgesic behavior takes us into unknown territory.

“The existence of the supra-ionic phase in easily accessible conditions is peculiar, as this phase is generally found in extreme conditions such as the cores of Uranus and Neptune. One way to visualize this phase is to oxygen atoms It forms a solid mesh, and the protons flow like a liquid through the mesh, like kids running through a maze,” Capel said.

The authors hope to harness the exceptional conductivity of the superionic phase to improve battery design.