Scientists could heat a small amount of water by as much as 600 degrees Celsius, in just half a picosecond or a trillionth of a second. Their technique is the fastest water-heating method on earth. Image © Oriol Vendrell/DESY
Scientists from the Hamburg Center for Free-Electron Laser Science have find away in less than a trillionth of a second. One picosecond is to a second what one second is to 32,000 years!
According to the new method, the superfast water heating can be achieved by concentrated flash of terahertz radiation. Terahertz radiation consists of electromagnetic waves with a frequency between radio waves and infrared. They changes the strength of the interaction between water molecules in a very short time, which immediately start to vibrate violently.
DESY scientist Dr. Oriol Vendrell from the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science CFEL, explains:
“Water is the single most important medium in which chemical and biological processes take place. Water is not just a passive solvent, but plays an important role in the dynamics of biological and chemical processes by stabilising certain chemical compounds and enabling specific reactions.
The idea is to heat-up the ‘solvent’ so that many molecules start the desired chemical process at the same time and then watch the reaction evolve.
The transient and hot environment achieved by the terahertz pulse could have interesting properties, like a matrix to study activated chemical processes. This will be the subject of further investigations.”