A Magnetically Focused Molecular Beam of Ortho-Water

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Science  21 Jan 2011:
Vol. 331, Issue 6015, pp. 319-321
DOI: 10.1126/science.1200433

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Like dihydrogen, water exists as two spin isomers, ortho and para, with the nuclear magnetic moments of the hydrogen atoms either parallel or antiparallel. The ratio of the two spin isomers and their physical properties play an important role in a wide variety of research fields, ranging from astrophysics to nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). Unlike ortho and para H2, however, the two water isomers remain challenging to separate, and as a consequence, very little is currently known about their different physical properties. Here, we report the formation of a magnetically focused molecular beam of ortho-water. The beam we formed also had a particular spin projection. Thus, in the presence of holding magnetic fields, the water molecules are hyperpolarized, laying the foundation for ultrasensitive NMR experiments in the future.

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