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Ultrafast heating of water -- This pot boils faster than you can watch it
Date:12/16/2013

e performed at the Supercomputer Center Jlich and used a total of 200,000 hours of processor time by massively parallel computing. On a single processor machine this would correspond to about 20 years of computation. "We have calculated that it should be possible to heat up the liquid to about 600 degrees Celsius within just half a picosecond, obtaining a transiently hot and structureless environment still at the density of the liquid, leaving all water molecules intact," explains Vendrell.

The novel method can only heat about one nanolitre (billionth of a litre) in one go. This may sound small, but is large enough for most experiments. For comparison, ink-jet printers fire droplets that are as small as one picolitre, which is a thousand times less than a nanolitre.

"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," explains Vendrell, who worked out the super heater with co-authors Pankaj Kr. Mishra and Prof. Robin Santra, also of CFEL. Although the hot mini-cloud will fly apart in less than a millisecond (a thousandth of a second), it lasts long enough to unravel everything of interest in thermal reactions such as the combination of small organic molecules to form new substances. The team currently investigates how the intense pulse of terahertz radiation affects different types of molecules dissolved in water, from inorganic to biological systems.

The reaction progress can be probed with ultrashort X-ray flashes like they will be produced by the 3.4-kilometre-long X-ray free-electron laser European XFEL, which currently is being built between the DESY campus in Hamburg and the neighbouring town of Schenefeld. When completed, the European XFEL will be able to generate 27,000 intense X-ray laser flashes per second, which can for example be used to record the different stages of chemical reactions.

One advantage of the heating meth
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Contact: Dr. Thomas Zoufal
presse@desy.de
49-408-998-1666
Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY
Source:Eurekalert  

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