Publication details

Information stored in quantum states of water fragments



Year of publication 2017
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Europhysicsnews
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Field Plasma physics
Keywords OH; rotational distribution; quantum states; water fragments; memory
Description Does water have memory? Well, not in the usual sense. But it is known, that if you tear water molecules apart, the remaining fragments can tell you a story about how it happened. To inves- tigate this phenomenon, a plasma reactor producing miniature lightnings in direct contact with water level was constructed. The electrical discharges are powerful enough to cause dis- sociation of water molecules in various ways. To facilitate the electrical breakdown, the atmosphere in the reactor was re- placed by argon. The water molecule can be broken by impact of sufficiently fast electron, absorption of deep UV photon or previously ex- cited argon atom. Each of these processes has a different en- ergy balance and the remaining energy is partially conserved in quantum states of the water fragments. By careful analysis of the light emitted by the relaxing OH radicals, we can dis- entangle the respective contributions to the total spectrum and calculate the portion of water molecules undergoing various dissociation mechanisms. The water fragments really remember what preceded their creation and they let us know by emitting photons. The time scale for "forgetting" depends on the collisional rate, i.e. the pressure. At atmospheric pressure, the information can be kept for several nanoseconds.
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