PerspectiveChemistry

Quantum dynamics in the smallest water droplet

Science  18 Mar 2016:
Vol. 351, Issue 6279, pp. 1267-1268
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf3061

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Summary

Water plays a central role in scientific disciplines ranging from geology to astronomy to biology. Yet it is an extraordinarily dif cult liquid to understand because of its complex, ever-changing patterns of hydrogen bonds. Studies of small water clusters have provided important insights into the concerted hydrogen-bond motions that can occur in water. These studies are also crucial for developing an accurate potential function for simulating the properties of liquid water and ice (1). On page 1310 of this issue, Richardson et al. (2) provide evidence for a concerted type of motion in which two hydrogen bonds in a water cluster are broken simultaneously (see the figure). The results have implications for many areas of scientific study, including the chemistry of polar solvents, the conformations of proteins, and the dissolution of ions in minerals.