Scientists say they have found a strange transition state in liquid water. The findings were published in the International Journal of Nanotechnology, and led by Laura Maestro from the University of Oxford, UK.
In their experiments, they found that when water was heated between 40 and 60°C (104 to 140°F), it hit a crossover temperature and switched between two different liquid states.
Its various properties each had a different crossover temperature. Thermal conductivity was 64°C (147°F), refractive index (how light travels through it) was 50°C (122°F), surface tension was 57°C (135°F), and electrical conductivity was 53°C (127°F).
“The existence of these two states in liquid water plays an important role in nanometric and biological systems,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
Water, of course, has three states of matter between 0 and 100°C (32 and 212°F) – solid, liquid, and gas. The higher the temperature, the more energetic the molecules, and thus the more chaotic they are.
“In the recent paper, the researchers measured several telltale physical properties of water at temperatures between 0°C and 100°C under normal atmospheric conditions (meaning the water was a liquid),” The Conversation noted. “Surprisingly, they found a kink in properties such as the water’s surface tension and its refractive index (a measure of how light travels through it) at around 50°C.”
Exactly what implications this will have isn't clear. But it further shows that there are many aspects of water we don't understand.