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Physicists break down 'molecular water dance' into separate motions

February 17, 16:23 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The experiments were performed in Switzerland where gaseous water molecules were irradiated with X-rays arising from the synchrotron

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© Siberian Federal University

MOSCOW, February 17. /TASS/ An international research team together with the participation of scientists from the Siberian Federal University (SFU) demonstrated that a distinct vibrational motion can be separated from the whole ensemble of molecular vibrations by means of X-ray irradiation, the SFU’s press-service announced. In the long run, this cutting-edge approach might be applied for precise control of chemical reactions.

"The possibility of manipulating such motions, and in particular the extraction of unique types of motions is a key prerequisite to understanding and controlling molecular reactions," said Viktor Kimberg, a coauthor of the study, and research assistant at SFU’s Laboratory of Non-Linear Optics and Spectroscopy.

Even very simple molecules such as water are constantly moving in a very complicated way. Their atoms oscillate in different directions with different frequencies called vibrational modes, while the net motion is built up from these various vibrational modes and often referred to as a "molecular dance."

Physicists from Germany, Sweden, Russia, Switzerland, and Brazil mastered the separation techniques of particular modes from the molecular dance by using of the effect of the space gate, the localization of distinct vibrational states due to X-ray scattering. The experiments were performed in Switzerland where gaseous water molecules were irradiated with X-rays arising from the synchrotron. Consequently, following the appropriate treatment, the X-ray scattering spectra on distinct vibrational modes were analyzed.

The study’s results were published in the prominent journal, Nature Communications. The scientists comment that the developed mechanism is applicable for precise control of chemical reactions and can potentially be used for more complex photochemical and biophysical systems. In the near future, the new method is scheduled to be tested on water molecules in the liquid phase.

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