Research ArticlePHYSICS

Seeing real-space dynamics of liquid water through inelastic x-ray scattering

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science Advances  22 Dec 2017:
Vol. 3, no. 12, e1603079
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1603079


Water is ubiquitous on earth, but we know little about the real-space motion of molecules in liquid water. We demonstrate that high-resolution inelastic x-ray scattering measurement over a wide range of momentum and energy transfer makes it possible to probe real-space, real-time dynamics of water molecules through the so-called Van Hove function. Water molecules are found to be strongly correlated in space and time with coupling between the first and second nearest-neighbor molecules. The local dynamic correlation of molecules observed here is crucial to a fundamental understanding of the origin of the physical properties of water, including viscosity. The results also suggest that the quantum-mechanical nature of hydrogen bonds could influence its dynamics. The approach used here offers a powerful experimental method for investigating real-space dynamics of liquids.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

View Full Text

Stay Connected to Science Advances