Science, Vol.370, No.6519, 978-+, 2020
Experimental observation of the liquid-liquid transition in bulk supercooled water under pressure
We prepared bulk samples of supercooled liquid water under pressure by isochoric heating of high-density amorphous ice to temperatures of 205 +/- 10 kelvin, using an infrared femtosecond laser. Because the sample density is preserved during the ultrafast heating, we could estimate an initial internal pressure of 2.5 to 3.5 kilobar in the high-density liquid phase. After heating, the sample expanded rapidly, and we captured the resulting decompression process with femtosecond x-ray laser pulses at different pump-probe delay times. A discontinuous structural change occurred in which low-density liquid domains appeared and grew on time scales between 20 nanoseconds to 3 microseconds, whereas crystallization occurs on time scales of 3 to 50 microseconds. The dynamics of the two processes being separated by more than one order of magnitude provides support for a liquid-liquid transition in bulk supercooled water.