PerspectiveChemistry

Pinning Down the Water Hexamer

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Science  18 May 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6083, pp. 814-815
DOI: 10.1126/science.1222007

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Summary

Water comes in numerous forms, from isolated clusters to at least one liquid form and 17 known forms of ice. The detailed characterization of water clusters is essential for developing more accurate and detailed models for describing all these different forms. The comparatively simple hydrogen-bond structures in small water clusters help to elucidate the much more complicated cooperative hydrogen bonding in liquid water (1), which is difficult to reproduce quantitatively from simplified models. The water hexamer has received particular attention as the smallest representative of multicyclic three-dimensional hydrogen-bonded structures. On page 897 of this issue, Pérez et al. (2) report a landmark experimental study that resolves some of the controversies regarding the relative energies of water hexamer isomers.