Scientists have used a powerful X-ray laser to perform experiments on an exotic state of water. The experiment turned the laser into the fastest water heater ever by heating the water to 100,000 degrees Celsius in less than a tenth of a picosecond. That is insanely fast, too fast to really wrap your brain around.
The water was heated in a millionth of a millionth of a second. The experiment was performed by a team led by Carl Caleman from the Center for Free-electron Laser Science at DESY and Uppsala University in Sweden. The experiment used the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in the US to shoot intense and ultra-short flashes of the X-ray laser at the water.
Caleman says that when we boil water, as it heats the molecules are more and more strongly shaken. The hotter, the faster the motion of the molecules. Heating using the laser is “fundamentally different” according to the scientist. The X-rays in the laser punch electrons out of the water molecules and destroy the balance of electric charges.
Caleman says that “suddenly the atoms feel a strong repulsive force and start to move violently.” The water goes through a phase transition from liquid to plasma in less than 75 femtoseconds. Plasma is a state of matter where electrons have been removed from the atoms leaving a type of electrically charged gas.
When the water transitions from liquid to plasma, it remains at the density of liquid water because the atoms haven’t had time to move significantly. This is an exotic state of matter that can’t be found naturally on Earth. The team says that the plasma created has similar characteristics as some of the plasma found on the sun and Jupiter but has a lower density. The plasma created is hotter than the Earth’s core.
SOURCE: Science Daily