Following the Motions of Water Molecules in Aqueous Solutions

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Science  21 May 2010:
Vol. 328, Issue 5981, pp. 985-986
DOI: 10.1126/science.1190093

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Water molecules in an aqueous solution constantly translate and rotate in an intricate and beautiful dance that underlies essential processes in areas ranging from biology to atmospheric chemistry. Recent experimental advances are letting us see some steps of this dance for water molecules interacting with simple molecules and ions. These studies are now possible because of the invention of infrared lasers that fire pulses on ultrashort time scales. In this issue, two examples at the forefront of this new field, involving the dynamics of water around anions and cations, are reported by Ji et al. on page 1003 (1) and Tielrooij et al. on page 1006 (2).