Microdroplets of water can convert to hydrogen peroxide on cold surfaces

In microdroplets of water a few millionths of a meter in size, some of the H₂O molecules present can be converted

hydrogen peroxide, H₂O₂. It is a harsh chemical commonly used as a disinfectant.

Scientists at Stanford University reported for the first timeabout this unexpected behavior in the sprayed micro-droplets of water last year. Now, it turns out that the same transformation occurs when microdroplets simply condense from the air on cold surfaces. The new results suggest that the conversion of water to hydrogen peroxide is a common occurrence in fog, raindrops and wherever microdroplets form naturally.

The photo shows the condensate of microdroplets of water,formed on the surface of a glass container with cold water (left), and an image of microdroplets of water formed on a polished silicon surface (right). Credit: Jae Kyo Lee and Hyun Soo Han

This amazing discovery could lead tocreating more sustainable methods for disinfecting surfaces or stimulating chemical reactions. The researchers also speculate that this newly discovered ability of water may have played a key role in triggering chemical processes on Earth billions of years ago.

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