Water has multiple liquid states according to new research

Shane McGlaun - Nov 20, 2020, 7:49am CST
Water has multiple liquid states according to new research

Everyone knows what water is. It’s essential to life as we know it. Water is unique in the way it responds to changes in pressure and temperature, which can be completely different from other liquids. What causes water to react differently than other liquids to pressure and temperature has been something investigated by scientists for a while.

A team of international researchers has proven that water can exist in two different liquid states. The finding may explain the anomalous properties of the ubiquitous liquid. The possibility of water existing in two distinct liquid states was proposed about 30 years ago based on results from computer simulations. Experiments to access the two liquid states of water have been challenging due to an apparently unavoidable ice formation during conditions where the two liquid states should exist.

The typical liquid state of water is the one everyone is familiar with and is liquid water at normal temperatures. The paper shows that water at low temperatures of approximately -63 degrees Celsius water exists in two different liquid states. One state is a low-density liquid at low pressure, and the other is a high-density liquid at high pressures. The two liquids have notably different properties and differ by 20 percent in density.

The study results imply that water would exist as two immiscible liquids separated by a thin interface, similar to how oil and water coexist, during appropriate conditions. Learning everything about water possible is important because of the fundamental role it plays in life on Earth and different fields such as biochemistry, climate, cryopreservation, cryobiology, material science, and other industrial processes.

The two liquid states could impact multiple scientific and engineering applications. Researchers on the project note that it remains an open question regarding how the presence of two liquids could impact the behavior of oculus solutions in general.

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