Water forms floating 'bridge' when exposed to high voltage

When water in two beakers is exposed to a high voltage a floating water bridge forms between the beakers. Credit: Elmar Fuchs et al.

While it's one of the most important and abundant chemical compounds on Earth, water is still a puzzle to scientists. Much research has been done to uncover the structure of water beyond the H2O scale, which is thought to be responsible for many of water’s unique properties. However, the nature of this structure, governed by hydrogen bonds, is currently unknown.

“Water undoubtedly is the most important chemical substance in the world,” explained Elmar Fuchs and colleagues from the Graz University of Technology in Austria in a recent study. “The interaction of water with electric fields has been intensely explored over the last years. We report another unusual effect of liquid water exposed to a dc electric field: the floating water bridge.”

Upon investigating the phenomenon, the scientistsfound that water was being transported from one beaker to another, usually from the anode beaker to the cathode beaker. The cylindrical water bridge, with a diameter of 1-3 mm, could remain intact when the beakers were pulled apart at a distance of up to 25 mm.

Why water would act this way was a surprise, Fuchs told PhysOrg.com. But the group’s analyses have shown that the explanation may lie within the nature of the water’s structure. Initially, the bridge forms due to electrostatic charges on the surface of the water. The electric field then concentrates inside the water, arranging the water molecules to form a highly ordered microstructure. This microstructure remains stable, keeping the bridge intact.


No comments: