Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Wetness-defying water?


Pacific Northwest National Laboratory group discovers a paradox: hydrophobic H2O

Now you can extend that truism about oil and water to water and itself. Water and water don’t always mix, either.

The textbooks say that water readily comes together with other water, open arms of hydrogen clasping oxygen attached to other OH molecules. This is the very definition of “wetness.” But scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have observed a first: a single layer of water—ice grown on a platinum wafer—that gives the cold shoulder to subsequent layers of ice that come into contact with it.

“Water-surface interactions are ubiquitous in nature and play an important role in many technological applications such as catalysis and corrosion,” said Greg Kimmel, staff scientist at the Department of Energy lab and lead author of a paper to appear Oct. 15 in the advance online edition of Physical Review Letters. “It was assumed that one end of the water molecule would bind to metal, and at the other end would be these nice hydrogen attachment points for the atoms in next layer of water.”

A theory out of Cambridge University last year suggested that these attachment points, or “dangling OH’s,” did not exist, that instead of dangling, the OH’s were drawn by the geometry of hexagonal noble-metal surfaces and clung to that.

Kimmel and his co-authors, working at the PNNL-based W.R. Wiley Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory, tested the theory with a technique called rare gas physisorption that enlists krypton to probe metal surfaces and water layers on those surfaces. They found that the first single layer of water, or monolayer, wetted the platinum surface as they had expected but “that subsequent layers did not wet the first layer,” Kimmel said. “In other words, the first layer of water is hydrophobic.”

The results jibe with an earlier Stanford University study that used X-ray adsorption to show that rather than being fixed pointing outward in the dangling position, wet and ready to receive the next water layer, the arms of a water monolayer on a metal surface are double-jointed. They swivel back toward the surface of the metal to find a place to bind. To the water molecules approaching this bent-over-backward surface, the layer has all the attractiveness of a freshly waxed car’s hood.

The second layer beads up, but that’s not all: Additional water’s attraction to that first hydrophobic water monolayer is so weak that 50 or more ice-crystal layers can be piled atop the first until all the so-called non-wetting portions are covered—akin to “the coalescence of water drops on a waxed car in a torrential downpour,” said Bruce Kay, PNNL laboratory fellow and co-author with Kimmel and PNNL colleagues Nick Petrik and Zdenek Dohnálek.

Kimmel said that self-loathing water on metal is more than a curiosity and will come as a surprise to many in the field who assumed that water films uniformly cover surfaces. Hundreds of experiments have been done on thin water films grown on metal surfaces to learn such things as how these films affect molecules in which they come into contact and what role heat, light and high-energy radiation play in such interactions.

PNNL is a DOE Office of Science laboratory that solves complex problems in energy, national security, the environment and life sciences by advancing the understanding of physics, chemistry, biology and computation. PNNL employs 4,100 staff, has a $700 million annual budget, and has been managed by Ohio-based Battelle since the lab’s inception in 1965.

Bill Cannon | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>