Researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) have confirmed the original model of the molecular structure of water. The findings have made it possible to resolve a long-standing scientific debate about liquid H2O’s structure.
The tetrahedral model was first hypothesised nearly 100 years ago. It assumes that each water molecule forms a hydrogen bond with four adjacent molecules. Research conducted in 2004 almost overturned this concept, when it was suggested that water molecules form bonds with only two other molecules.
Hydrogen bonds, which give water some of its unique properties such as its liquid aggregate state and high boiling point, are formed due to the different charges carried by the oxygen and hydrogen atoms. It was traditionally suggested that water has a tetrahedral structure at room temperature so that on average, each water molecule would be linked with four adjacent ones via two donor and acceptor bonds.