A global team guided by Argonne has visualized the elusive, ultrafast proton switch process following the ionization of water.
Learning how ionizing radiation matches with water—like in water-cooled nuclear reactors and other water-containing techniques—requires glimpsing a few of the fastest chemical reactions ever noticed.
In new research from a worldwide collaboration led by scientists on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, the German analysis facility DESY, and carried out at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, researchers have witnessed for the first time the ultrafast proton transfer reaction following ionization of liquid water.
The proton transfer reaction is a course of great significance to a variety of fields, including nuclear engineering, area travel, and environmental remediation.
The commentary was made possible by the provision of ultrafast X-ray free-electron-laser pulses and is unobservable by different ultrafast strategies.
While learning the fastest chemical reactions is attention-grabbing in its own proper, this observation for water also has essential practical implications.
By understanding the time for the formation of the chemically aggressive hydroxyl radical and, thereby, getting a deeper mechanistic knowledge of the radiolysis of water, it might, in the end, turn out to be possible to develop strategies to suppress this vital step which may lead to radiation damage.
Scientists had long known about this reaction, with a first sighting in the Sixties when scientists at Argonne first discovered the electron ejected from water by radiolysis.