Water Structure

Getting all wet 9 or 10 at a time

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Science  12 Dec 2014:
Vol. 346, Issue 6215, pp. 1339-1340
DOI: 10.1126/science.346.6215.1339-d

H2O seems like such a simple molecule. Why, then, haven't chemists definitively resolved the details of liquid water structure? The trouble is that hydrogen bonding—the attraction between an H on one molecule and an O on another—creates a cooperative net, where the orientation of each individual H2O depends sensitively on the orientations of all its neighbors. Pérez et al. take a close look at water clusters built up from 9 or 10 molecules, to help tease out the subtleties of hydrogen bonding behavior in a more manageable size regime. Using rotational spectroscopy in the microwave region, they observe several different arrangements at slightly varying energies, which accord with a straightforward cooperativity model.

Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 53, 10.1002/anie.201407447 (2014).

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