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Condensing water vapor to droplets generates hydrogen peroxide.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
It was previously shown [J. K. Lee et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A, 116, 19294-19298 (2019)] that hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is spontaneously produced in micrometer-sized water droplets (microdroplets), which are generated by atomizing bulk water using nebulization without the application of an external electric field. Here we report that H2O2 is spontaneously produced in water microdroplets formed by dropwise condensation of water vapor on low-temperature substrates. Because peroxide formation is induced by a strong electric field formed at the water-air interface of microdroplets, no catalysts or external electrical bias, as well as precursor chemicals, are necessary. Time-course observations of the H2O2 production in condensate microdroplets showed that H2O2 was generated from microdroplets with sizes typically less than 10 m. The spontaneous production of H2O2 was commonly observed on various different substrates, including silicon, plastic, glass, and metal. Studies with substrates with different surface conditions showed that the nucleation and the growth processes of condensate water microdroplets govern H2O2 generation. We also found that the H2O2 production yield strongly depends on environmental conditions, including relative humidity and substrate temperature. These results show that the production of H2O2 occurs in water microdroplets formed by not only atomizing bulk water but also condensing water vapor, suggesting that spontaneous water oxidation to form H2O2 from water microdroplets is a general phenomenon. These findings provide innovative opportunities for green chemistry at heterogeneous interfaces, self-cleaning of surfaces, and safe and effective disinfection. They also may have important implications for prebiotic chemistry.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.2020158117
View details for PubMedID 33229543