A coherent picture of water at extreme negative pressure.

Abstract : Liquid water at atmospheric pressure can be supercooled to 41 C (ref. 1) and superheated to C302 C (ref. 2). Experiments involving fluid inclusions of water in quartz suggest that water is capable of sustaining pressures as low as 140 MPa before it breaks by cavitation3. Other techniques, for which cavitation occurs consistently at around 30MPa (ref. 4), produce results that cast doubt on this claim. Here we reproduce the fluid-inclusion experiment, performing repeated measurements on a single sample--a method used in meteorology5, bioprotection6 and protein crystallization7, but not yet in liquid water under large mechanical tension. The resulting cavitation statistics are characteristic of a thermally activated process, and both the free energy and the volume of the critical bubble are well described by classical nucleation theory when the surface tension is reduced by less than 10%, consistent with homogeneous cavitation. The line of density maxima of water at negative pressure is found to reach 922:8 kgm3 at around 300 K, which further constrains its contested phase diagram.
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Mouna El Mekki, Claire Ramboz, Jean-François Lenain, Frederic Caupin. A coherent picture of water at extreme negative pressure.. Nature Physics, Nature Publishing Group, 2013, 9 (1), pp.38-41. ⟨10.1038/NPHYS2475⟩. ⟨insu-00767765⟩

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