Entre nous

An international team has used high-energy X-rays at the European Synchrotron Radiation Source (ESRF) to reveal details of what occurs in the gap between water and a hydrophobic surface. The new insights could help explain in finer detail why water and oil don't mix. Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Germany and the University of South Australia in Adelaide, and the ESRF carried out experiments on silicon wafers coated with octadecyl-trichlorosilane. Their high-resolution in situ X-ray study of the hydrophobic gap show that contrary to earlier studies, gas molecules do not apparently play a role in the structure of water at such interfaces.