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Science shocker: Light can vaporize water without heat, says MIT study

• Interesting Engineering

For millennia, humans have observed and utilized evaporation, the process by which water transforms from a liquid to a vapor. From witnessing the sun's dry morning fog to extracting salt from evaporated seawater, this fundamental process has been a constant presence. However, a recent groundbreaking discovery by MIT researchers challenges our traditional understanding of evaporation. Their findings reveal that light, not just heat, plays a crucial role in driving this phenomenon.

Light-triggered evaporation

This research, published in the journal PNAS, sheds light on a previously unknown mechanism – the photomolecular effect. The MIT team, led by Professor Gang Chen, demonstrated that light striking the water's surface can directly liberate water molecules, causing them to evaporate into the air. This effect occurs independently of heat, upending our long-held belief that thermal energy is the sole driver of evaporation.


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