Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Water is not the same as water

29.05.2018

Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two different forms (isomers) at the molecular level. The difference lies in the relative orientation of the nuclear spins of the two hydrogen atoms. Depending on whether the spins are aligned in the same or opposite direction, one refers to ortho- or para-water.


Pre-sorted ortho-water and para-water molecules with differently oriented nuclear spins (blue or red arrows) react with diazenylium ions (center left) at different speeds.

University of Basel

Experiments with sorted water molecules

The research group headed by Professor Stefan Willitsch from the University of Basel’s Department of Chemistry has investigated how the two forms of water differ in terms of their chemical reactivity – their ability to undergo a chemical reaction. Both isomers have almost identical physical properties which makes their separation particularly challenging.

This separation was made possible by a method based on electric fields developed by Professor Jochen Küpper from the Hamburg Center for Free-Electron Laser Science. Using this approach, the researchers were able to initiate controlled reactions between the “pre-sorted” water isomers and ultracold diazenylium ions (“protonated nitrogen”) held in a trap. During this process, a diazenylium ion transfers its proton to a water molecule. This reaction is also observed in the chemistry of interstellar space.

Increased reactivity

It was demonstrated that para-water reacts about 25% faster than ortho-water. This effect can be explained in terms of the nuclear spin also influencing the rotation of the water molecules. As a result, different attractive forces act between the reaction partners. Para-water is able to attract its reaction partner more strongly than the ortho-form, which leads to an increased chemical reactivity. Computer simulations confirmed these experimental findings.

In their experiments, the researchers worked with molecules at very low temperatures close to the absolute zero point (about –273°C). These are ideal conditions to precisely prepare individual quantum states and define the energy content of the molecules, and to cause a controlled reaction between them. Willitsch explains the experimental approach: “The better one can control the states of the molecules involved in a chemical reaction, the better the underlying mechanisms and dynamics of a reaction can be investigated and understood.”

Original Source

Ardita Kilaj, Hong Gao, Daniel Rösch, Uxia Rivero, Jochen Küpper, Stefan Willitsch
Observation of different reactivities of para- and ortho-water towards trapped diazenylium ions
Nature Communications (2018), doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04483-3

Further Information

Prof. Dr. Stefan Willitsch, Universität Basel, Departement Chemie, Tel. +41 61 207 38 30, E-Mail: stefan.willitsch@unibas.ch

Prof. Dr. Jochen Küpper, Center for Free-Electron Laser Science, Hamburg, Tel. +49 40 8998-6330 , E-Mail: jochen.kuepper@cfel.de

Iris Mickein | Universität Basel
Further information:
http://www.unibas.ch

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Magic number colloidal clusters
13.12.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

nachricht Record levels of mercury released by thawing permafrost in Canadian Arctic
13.12.2018 | University of Alberta

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: An energy-efficient way to stay warm: Sew high-tech heating patches to your clothes

Personal patches could reduce energy waste in buildings, Rutgers-led study says

What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...

Im Focus: Lethal combination: Drug cocktail turns off the juice to cancer cells

A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.

The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...

Im Focus: New Foldable Drone Flies through Narrow Holes in Rescue Missions

A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.

Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

ICTM Conference 2019: Digitization emerges as an engineering trend for turbomachinery construction

12.12.2018 | Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Magic number colloidal clusters

13.12.2018 | Life Sciences

UNLV study unlocks clues to how planets form

13.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Live from the ocean research vessel Atlantis

13.12.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>