For 200 years, there was no molecular explanation on why water has electric conductivity – that is, until now. Scientists have finally figured out how water conducts electricity and its method could be used to unravel more mysteries of the transparent substance.
Electricity Flows in Water
We have been warned countless times that water and electricity do not go together if we want to be safe. We have also been notified that water Pokemon is weak against electric types. When asked why, science would say it is just how it works.
Finally, Yale University researchers made a breakthrough by having a spectroscopic photograph of the electron transference happening in water molecules. The study led by chemistry professor Mark Johnson was published in Science.
The process called Grotthuss mechanism of water conductivity was first proposed in 1806 by Theodor Grotthuss. However, it has baffled scientists for two decades and “eluded a firm explanation,” according to Anne McCoy, a researcher from the University of Washington.
Johnson’s group have been studying the molecular level of water for many years; thus giving them a head start in their study. His team “reveals the structural information encoded in color” through freezing the chemical process.
They were able to reveal the structure of the Grotthuss mechanism after capturing the molecules during their transient states. Johnson proudly shares they have captured the “sequence of concerted deformations” just like “frames of a movie.” A type of “heavy water” was frozen at absolute zero temperature to be able to get sharper images.
Mysteries of Water Solved One at a Time
Water is a very basic element; one that we can see everywhere and is essential to our life. But oftentimes, it is the very fundamental ones that get overlooked without knowing that understanding them better could lead to further discoveries.
McCoy says the missing puzzle piece that reveals the whole picture of how “protons essentially ‘move’ in water” is finally found. The electric conductivity of water opens up many insights about the liquid that makes up the majority of the Earth’s face and our human body.
There are more mysteries that might finally be explained soon as the phenomenon was unveiled. For instance, scientists have found that water actually has a second liquid state when in reaches a temperature of 40-60°C.
Ultimately, water’s electric conductivity is only one of the world’s mysteries. As more questions are answered, follow up questions arise too. The good thing is that humanity is taking steps in uncovering them one at a time and would eventually be useful in understanding how our world works.