Dutch researcher Arjan Lock has investigated the behaviour of vibrating water molecules. Using ultra-short laser pulses, he found that hydrogen atoms in water molecules vibrate for longer at higher temperatures. This is abnormal because in the majority of substances a vibration lives shorter at higher temperatures.
Lock studied the OH-stretch vibration in water. He found that the lifetime of the OH-stretch vibration, a vibration of a hydrogen atom with respect to the oxygen atom, is extremely short in water, just 0.26 picoseconds (0.26 millionth, millionth of a second). The energy is then transferred from the OH-stretch vibration to a bend vibration in water.
At a higher temperature the lifetime of the vibration increases. This is completely contrary to the expected behaviour because in the majority of substances, the duration of the vibration is shorter at higher temperatures. In water however, higher temperatures weaken the hydrogen bonds and as a result of this the lifetime of the vibration increases.
Sonja Jacobs | NWO
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