We all know that water along with other liquids can only express three basic states of liquid, solid and gas. Never have we ever questioned this basic assumption that water can exist in only these states. Now it seems that it can. Researchers from Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL) have found out that water can exhibit a special fourth state set of properties once it is subjected to extreme pressure in extremely small spaces. This phenomenon is known as tunnelling.
The experiments were carried out in special six-sided cells of mineral beryl from which aquamarines and emeralds are mined. These cages are quite small and incorporate only six atoms in all and can contain only one water molecule. The scientists saw that while the water molecule was present in such a tight space, it could be forced to behave in a different way that has only been observed at a quantum level before and it is called tunnelling. What it means is that any particle can sometimes overcome barriers of two state and adopt both sides at once or display mixed properties. All of this explanation is a little difficult to understand since none of us know much about the quantum states and Physics but apparently, sometimes molecules can be de localized and present in “all six symmetrically equivalent positions in the channel at the same ” which is quite remarkable to say the least since it is a totally out-of-the-world experience for a normal molecule.
It is for this reason that no justification for this anomaly of a relationship has so far been given by the researchers as it was totally out of the blue. Using Neutron-scattering experiments, the researchers found out that water molecules spread themselves in two corrugated rings, one inside the other. At the centre of the ring itself, one-third part of water molecule took on six different orientations at the same time! So, in fact, the Hydrogen atom of water is not present in one position but as been smeared into a ring shape.
The discovery could have potential applications on how energy is utilised by the water molecule and how water behaves in the nanotubes inside the human body. It is a huge discovery in its own! Check out the video below for more details: