Jun 21, 2023

“Hydration Solids”: The New Class of Matter Shaking Up Science

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, particle physics, science

For many years, the fields of physics and chemistry have held the belief that the properties of solid materials are fundamentally determined by the atoms and molecules they consist of. For instance, the crystalline nature of salt is credited to the ionic bond formed between sodium and chloride ions. Similarly, metals such as iron or copper owe their robustness to the metallic bonds between their respective atoms, and the elasticity of rubbers stems from the flexible bonds in the polymers that form them. This principle also applies to substances like fungi, bacteria, and wood.

Or so the story goes.

A new paper recently published in Nature upends that paradigm, and argues that the character of many biological materials is actually created by the water that permeates these materials. Water gives rise to a solid and goes on to define the properties of that solid, all the while maintaining its liquid characteristics.

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