Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed new theories regarding the compression of water under a high-gradient electric field. They found that a high electric field applied to a tiny hole in a graphene membrane would compress the water molecules travelling through the pore by 3%. The predicted water compression may eventually prove useful in high-precision filtering of biomolecules for biomedical research.
The team commented: "This is an unexpected phenomenon, contrary to what we thought we knew about nanopore transport. It took three years to work out what it was the simulations were showing us. After exploring many potential solutions, the breakthrough came when we realized that we should not assume water is incompressible. Now that we understand what's happening in the computer simulations, we are able to reproduce this phenomenon in theoretical calculations."