Water confined to scales of around 20 Å has different transport and thermodynamics properties. It now also turns out that even the ground state of electrons is weird. George Reiter of the University of Houston in Texas and colleagues used X-ray Compton scattering to show that the electronic structure of nanoconfined water in hydrated Nafion (a plastic) is not only different from that of regular water but also cannot be explained by conventional ab initio calculations. Cells must make use of water in a distinct quantum state from bulk water, so this is likely to have important implications for biology, as well as being of intrinsic interest in physics.
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Compiled by John Swain, Northeastern University.
G F Reiter et al. 2013 Phys. Rev. Letts. 111 036803.