The Structure of the First Coordination Shell in Liquid Water

Science  14 May 2004:
Vol. 304, Issue 5673, pp. 995-999
DOI: 10.1126/science.1096205

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X-ray absorption spectroscopy and x-ray Raman scattering were used to probe the molecular arrangement in the first coordination shell of liquid water. The local structure is characterized by comparison with bulk and surface of ordinary hexagonal ice Ih and with calculated spectra. Most molecules in liquid water are in two hydrogen–bonded configurations with one strong donor and one strong acceptor hydrogen bond in contrast to the four hydrogen–bonded tetrahedral structure in ice. Upon heating from 25°C to 90°C, 5 to 10% of the molecules change from tetrahedral environments to two hydrogen–bonded configurations. Our findings are consistent with neutron and x-ray diffraction data, and combining the results sets a strong limit for possible local structure distributions in liquid water. Serious discrepancies with structures based on current molecular dynamics simulations are observed.

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