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There Are Not One But, Two States Of Liquid

Water is one of the most fundamental compounds on Earth, and it makes up approximately 60% of the human body, and yet water is becoming stranger than we could have ever believed. Scientists have been examining the physical properties of water and discovered that when it is heated to between 40 and 60 degrees Celsius, it hits a 'cross-over temperature', and acts to start switching between two dissimilar states of liquid. As a chemical compound, water is so important to live on Earth, we have been miscalculating how reasonably weird it is.

We have all become so used to it, it’s hard to imagine things becoming any more difficult than the three basic states: solid, liquid, gas. (Under very rare situations, a plasma-like state can also form.) But in many methods, basic, old water is different from any other substance or compound on the planet.

Except for Mercury, water has the highest surface tension of all liquids or fluids. It’s also one of the only identified substances whose solid state can lift in its liquid state, and different from almost every other known compound, water expands when it freezes. It also has a strange boiling point. While the boiling points of many hydrides, for example, hydrogen telluride and hydrogen sulfide, drops as their molecule size decreases, water has a remarkably large boiling point for such a minor molecular weight.

Philip Ball points out in Nature, "No one actually understands water. It’s embarrassing to acknowledge it, but the things that cover two-thirds of our planet is still mysterious. Worse, the further we investigate, the more the difficulties gather: new techniques searching deeper into the molecular construction of liquid water are throwing up more mysteries."

Now physicists have revealed that somewhere between the temperatures of 40 and 60 degrees Celsius, liquid water can 'change' states, showing a whole new set of properties liable on the state it switches to.

To solve this, an international team controlled by physicist Laura Maestro from the University of Oxford in the UK looked at a number of particular properties of water. They investigated things like thermal conductivity, surface tension, conductivity, refractive index and the dielectric constant; how well an electric field can expand through a substance, and how they reacted to variations in temperature between 0 and 100 degrees Celsius.

Once the water reached 40 degrees, things started to change, and properties were shifting all the way up to 60 degrees. Each property had a unique ‘crossover temperature' somewhere within this starting point, and the scientists propose that this is because the liquid water had changed into a different state. The team lists a small number of these crossover temperatures: roughly 50 degrees Celsius for refractive index, 64 degrees Celsius for thermal conductivity, approximately 53 degrees Celsius for conductivity, and 57 degrees Celsius for surface tension.

They determine, "These results approve that in the 0-100 degrees Celsius variety, water presents a crossover temperature in numerous of its properties close to 50 degrees Celsius.”

So what's happening here? It's not, however, clear but the information that water could be changing between two completely different states of liquid at definite temperatures could be related to why H2O has such uncommon properties in general.

Water molecules preserve only very short-lived influences between each other, and these hydrogen bonds are essentially far weaker than the bonds that link the specific hydrogen and oxygen atoms inside the molecules of hydrogen and oxygen. Therefore, the hydrogen bonds that connect water molecules together are frequently breaking and restructuring, and yet in all that disorder, set structures and 'rules' continue. Physicists suggest that this is what gives water its uncommon properties, but no one's completely sure how it works.

Ball writes for Nature, “Everyone is settled that one part of water’s molecular construction sets it apart from maximum other liquids: passing hydrogen bonds. These weak bonds that link the molecules continuously break and form beyond water’s melting point, yet still, carry out a degree of structure on the molecular odds and ends. That’s where the agreement ends."

Although Maestro and her team's conclusions will need to re-test by an independent team in advance we can start re-writing texts to replicate the four (or 3.5?) states of water that could possibly exist, they say their finding could have big effects on our understanding of both Nano and biological structures.

They write in their paper, "For instance, the ocular properties of metallic (gold and silver) nanoparticles spread in water, used as nano-probes, and the release properties of ... quantum dots, used for fluorescence bio-imaging and tumor targeting, show a remarkable behavior in this temperature variety. It also raises the problem of whether temperature-driven structural variations in water disturb biological macro-molecules in aqueous solutions, and in specific in proteins, which are the fundamental functional biological components in living cells."

The study has been printed in the International Journal of Nanotechnology.

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