Quantum Tunneling Water?

This has so many implications.

I sure do hope it is replicated fairly soon. The basic idea is that inside a tight space of a crystal lattice, water molecules are unlike in any other place. In particular, they act ‘delocalized’ and they seem to ‘quantum tunnel’. That is, they do things that in classical physics are impossible (but quantum mechanics are like that…)

I noticed this article in one of the corners of the E-Cat World site.


Down at the bottom it points to the original paper, and I’m going to have a link below the quoted bits.

New Quantum Tunneling State of Water Molecules Discovered (Press Release)
Posted on April 26, 2016 by Frank Acland

The following press release was published by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Ron Walli, Communications
wallira@ornl.gov, 865.576.0226

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., April 22, 2016 – Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.

OK, it’s from Oak Ridge National Labs. Those guys are generally right when they claim something.

In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of water molecules confined in hexagonal ultra-small channels – 5 angstrom across – of the mineral beryl. An angstrom is 1/10-billionth of a meter, and individual atoms are typically about 1 angstrom in diameter.

AND, they use Angstroms ;-) (Take THAT, SI…)

I note in passing that the 5 Angstrom size is about the same as the size I postulated for an active space in LENR Laves crystals and that NAVSEA claimed mattered. So “strange things” happen at that size to molecules and protons in that space… Just sayin’…

The discovery, made possible with experiments at ORNL’s Spallation Neutron Source and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in the United Kingdom, demonstrates features of water under ultra confinement in rocks, soil and cell walls, which scientists predict will be of interest across many disciplines.

“At low temperatures, this tunneling water exhibits quantum motion through the separating potential walls, which is forbidden in the classical world,” said lead author Alexander Kolesnikov of ORNL’s Chemical and Engineering Materials Division. “This means that the oxygen and hydrogen atoms of the water molecule are ‘delocalized’ and therefore simultaneously present in all six symmetrically equivalent positions in the channel at the same time. It’s one of those phenomena that only occur in quantum mechanics and has no parallel in our everyday experience.”


ORNL co-author Lawrence Anovitz noted that the discovery is apt to spark discussions among materials, biological, geological and computational scientists as they attempt to explain the mechanism behind this phenomenon and understand how it applies to their materials.

“This discovery represents a new fundamental understanding of the behavior of water and the way water utilizes energy,” Anovitz said. “It’s also interesting to think that those water molecules in your aquamarine or emerald ring – blue and green varieties of beryl – are undergoing the same quantum tunneling we’ve seen in our experiments.”

While previous studies have observed tunneling of atomic hydrogen in other systems, the ORNL discovery that water exhibits such tunneling behavior is unprecedented. The neutron scattering and computational chemistry experiments showed that, in the tunneling state, the water molecules are delocalized around a ring so the water molecule assumes an unusual double top-like shape.

I think that “interest across many disciplines” is an understatement. .. Once you have molecules as large as water showing quantum delocalizing in normal conditions and materials, all sorts of “impossible things” start to become possible. So right off the bat, one wonders just how large a molecule CAN show such behaviour inside tight structures? Maybe NiAlLiH complexes?… And can a protein fold cause similar things in biological systems?

“The average kinetic energy of the water protons directly obtained from the neutron experiment is a measure of their motion at almost absolute zero temperature and is about 30 percent less than it is in bulk liquid or solid water,” Kolesnikov said. “This is in complete disagreement with accepted models based on the energies of its vibrational modes.”

First principle simulations made by Narayani Choudhury of Lake Washington Institute of Technology and University of Washington-Bothell showed that the tunneling behavior is coupled to the vibrational dynamics of the beryl structure.

That whole “whack the crystal and make it vibrate” with things like phonons and polarons and all… now it is tied to causing QM Weirdness to happen to trapped molecules…

Co-authors of the paper, titled “Quantum Tunneling of Water in Beryl: a New State of the Water Molecule,” were Timothy Prisk, Eugene Mamontov, Andrey Podlesnyak, George Ehlers and David Wesolowski of ORNL, George Reiter of the University of Houston and Andrew Seel of Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. Funding for this research was provided by DOE’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences. The SNS is a DOE Office of Science User Facility. The paper is available at http://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.167802

That link: http://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.167802 leads to this abstract:

Quantum Tunneling of Water in Beryl: A New State of the Water Molecule

Alexander I. Kolesnikov, George F. Reiter, Narayani Choudhury, Timothy R. Prisk, Eugene Mamontov, Andrey Podlesnyak, George Ehlers, Andrew G. Seel, David J. Wesolowski, and Lawrence M. Anovitz

Phys. Rev. Lett. 116, 167802 – Published 22 April 2016

See Focus story: Water Molecule Spreads Out When Caged


Using neutron scattering and ab initio simulations, we document the discovery of a new “quantum tunneling state” of the water molecule confined in 5 Å channels in the mineral beryl, characterized by extended proton and electron delocalization. We observed a number of peaks in the inelastic neutron scattering spectra that were uniquely assigned to water quantum tunneling. In addition, the water proton momentum distribution was measured with deep inelastic neutron scattering, which directly revealed coherent delocalization of the protons in the ground state.

Received 18 November 2015


© 2016 American Physical Society

Unfortunately, to get the actual article requires a “subscription” or some such. Never mind that my tax money paid for the damn work to begin with…

OK, the cool bit to me is that we have an existence proof of QM Tunneling in the context of a constrained crystal lattice. At that point, all bets are off as to what Coulomb Barriers and all might or might not apply to any given atom, molecule, or proton.

Can a case now be made for a loose proton to QM Tunnel into the heart of a Nickle Atom or Lithium? Looks that way to me… Can a case be made that a LiH molecule inside a Ni lattice might be “delocalized” enough that when some whack hits it (and jumps it up to ‘two atoms not a molecule’ state) those two atomic wave functions overlap and they fuse? Sure looks like it to me.

The other implication of this is that non-metal crystals can cause the behaviour… So a search for “Laves Like Structure” in non-metalic compounds ought to be fruitful. IIRC, some LERN was detected by Japanese? folks in non-metals. ZrO or some such?… (Yes, another “dig here”…)

With that, we now return you to your regular reality where Quantum Mechanics can (usually…) be safely ignored.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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6 Responses to Quantum Tunneling Water?

  1. Graeme No.3 says:

    Right off the top of my head…there has been speculation about adiabatic generation of methane from carbonate deep in rocks. Not proven, nor disproven by Russian drilling experiment, and possibly others as I haven’t kept up with this, but how big is CO2 (or CO3)?

  2. Larry Ledwick says:

    Hmmm quantum behavior might explain “cold fusion” at low energies which traditional physics say is not likely. Perhaps it becomes much more likely under quantum confinement conditions?
    We may not “know” as much as we think we do about nuclear behavior ?
    Very interesting to see what comes out of this discovery in 10-20 years.

  3. Larry Ledwick says:

    This might also explain how some hydroscopic materials absorb so much more water, and how they are so difficult to completely dry them out. Some have to be baked at temperatures significantly higher than water’s boiling point to fully dry the sample.

  4. Chris in Calgary says:

    Had a quick look at some of the latest LENR articles. It seems there’s more discord out there: one prominent proponent is suing his business partner, Industrial Heat, who says “Industrial Heat has worked for over three years to substantiate the results claimed by Mr. Rossi from the E-Cat technology – all without success. ”

    This LENR / “cold fusion” story is just as frustrating as old Tantalus himself. There always seems to be evidence that something unorthodox is happening, yet just when you think something might be on the cusp of reproducibility, the floor falls out again.

    Just about as bad as “hot fusion” e.g. Tokamak reactors. Much promise, insignificant results.

  5. spetzer86 says:

    Insulin Zn crystals with water, phenol, and some other materials offer fairly small channels in the C2221 configuration: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2241603/

  6. Wayne Job says:

    Water, the most anomalous substance, take a heap of hydrogen a very light gas put in a pile of oxygen, throw in a match. Not only do you get a big bang you get water, imagine the amount of hydrogen and oxygen and the bang involved to make all the water on earth. Without the anomalous behaviours of water no life would exist. If they are finding more tricks up its sleeve, I would not be surprised. Cheers.

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