Emergence of anomalous dynamics in soft matter probed at the European XFEL.

Research Highlight

Watching water heat up at ultrahigh time scales

© Kim Steele/Getty

© Kim Steele/Getty

Under extreme conditions and short time scales, water can remain a liquid at temperatures exceeding 170 degrees Celsius.

At very short time scales, matter can act very differently from how it behaves in everyday life. Powerful X-ray lasers are promising for probing the short-time-scale dynamics of matter, but this has been difficult to date because the energy of their pulses can fluctuate.

Now, by realizing an unprecedented beam stability, a team that included researchers at the University of Hamburg in Germany has used the most powerful X-ray laser in the world to explore how water behaves when heated rapidly on time scales of a millionth of a second.

This understanding of how superheated water behaves will be valuable for predicting how water-containing heat-sensitive samples will act under similar conditions.

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  1. PNAS USA 117, 24110–24116 (2020). doi: 10.1073/pnas.2003337117
Institutions Share
European X-ray Free-Electron Laser Facility GmbH (XFEL), Germany 0.41
DESY Photon Science (FS), Germany 0.36
Cluster of Excellence - Hamburg Center for Ultrafast Imaging (CUI), UHH, Germany 0.14
Institute of Physical Chemistry, UHH, Germany 0.03
Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL), Germany 0.03
Department of Chemistry and Physics, La Trobe University, Australia 0.02
La Trobe Institute for Molecular Science (LIMS), La Trobe University, Australia 0.02