Dr Richard Henchman's finding on structure of liquid water
Dr Richard Henchman has discovered another piece of the puzzle in understanding the structure of liquid water, a topic on which the academic community still does not agree. In a recent paper presented at a Faraday Discussion (R. H. Henchman and S. J. Cockram, Faraday Discuss., 167, DOI: 10.1039/C3FD00080J), by carefully examining a computer simulation of water he found that the outermost hydrogen donating to an oxygen sometimes donates simultaneously to the donor's next-nearest oxygen. This occurs if there are fewer donors to the next-nearest oxygen than to the nearest oxygen. See the figure for the two main possibilities.
Such evidence of a stable bifurcated hydrogen bond contradicts a long-standing assumption made for water that the only stable hydrogen-bond is the linear hydrogen-oxygen form. It further demonstrates the inadequacy of the textbook tetrahedral model for water. It reveals a clearer picture of the mechanism of hydrogen-bond switching. It provides a more plausible description of configurations which had previously been regarded as broken hydrogen bonds. Finally, it reconciles the contending continuous and mixture theories of water by showing that water has properties of both of them.