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One of the most basic things we are taught in school science classes is that water can exist in three different states, either as solid ice, liquid water, or vapour gas.
But an international team of scientists have recently found signs that liquid water might actually come in two different states.
Paper - International - Journal - Nanotechnology - Researchers
Writing in an experimental paper, published in the International Journal of Nanotechnology, the researchers were surprised to find a number of physical properties of water change their behaviour between 50℃ and 60℃.
This sign of a potential change to a second liquid state could spark a heated discussion in the scientific community.
Implications - Range - Fields - Nanotechnology - Biology
And, if confirmed, it could have implications for a range of fields, including nanotechnology and biology.
States of matter, also called 'phases', are a key concept in the study of systems made from atoms and molecules.
Speaking - System - Molecules - Number - Configurations
Roughly speaking, a system formed from many molecules can be arranged in a certain number of configurations depending on its total energy.
At higher temperatures (and therefore higher energies), the molecules have more possible configurations and so are more disorganised and can move about relatively freely (the gas phase).
Temperatures - Molecules - Number - Configurations - Phase
At lower temperatures, the molecules have a more limited number of configurations and so form a more ordered phase (a liquid).
If the temperature goes down further, they arrange themselves in a very specific configuration, producing a solid.
Picture - Molecules - Carbon - Dioxide - Methane
This picture is common for relatively simple molecules such as carbon dioxide or methane, which have three clear, different states (liquid, solid and gas).
But for more complex molecules, there is a larger number of possible configurations and this gives rise to more phases.
Phase - Substance - Molecules - Properties - Substance
Because the phase of a substance is determined by how its molecules are configured, many physical properties of that substance will change abruptly as it goes from one state to another.
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