Identification of a low-frequency elastic behaviour in liquid water

J Phys Condens Matter. 2012 Sep 19;24(37):372101. doi: 10.1088/0953-8984/24/37/372101. Epub 2012 Aug 14.


This article deals with the identification of solid-like properties measured at room temperature at a sub-millimetre length scale in liquid water. At a macroscopic scale, normal liquids (i.e. above melting temperature), and in particular water, are typically and empirically defined by the absence of shear elasticity, in contrast to solids or plastic fluids that require a stress threshold for flowing. A novel method optimizing the transmission of the shear stress to the sample enables a more complete probe of the mechanical response of liquids. It reveals that glass formers and viscous alkanes actually exhibit finite macroscopic shear elasticity away from any phase transition. This protocol is here applied for the first time to liquid water at room temperature, revealing, at the sub-millimetre scale, a low-frequency solid-like property.