Photomolecular Effect, nature continues to surprise and amaze

I’m glad I decided to check out this video. If you are into Earth sciences, this one is a bit of a stunner. Another example of something right under our noses, that most all of us take for granted, that turned out to be an amazing secret hiding in plain sight.

New MIT Discovery Just Solved one of Physics BIGGEST Mysteries!

Two Bit da Vinci

Scientific discoveries have a way of changing the world. Like the photo-electric effect that paved the way for LEDs and Solar panels. For a long time, we thought the sun evaporated water by heating it, but a new discovery on the Photo-Molecular Effect might just change our understanding of the water cycle forever. And there just might be countless new innovations that stem from it.

Plausible photomolecular effect leading to water evaporation exceeding the thermal limit

Yaodong Tu, Jiawei Zhou, Shaoting Lin, +2, and Gang Chen ORCID

Contributed by Gang Chen; received July 26, 2023; accepted September 25, 2023


We use 14 different experiments to demonstrate the existence of the photomolecular effect: photons in the visible spectrum cleave off water clusters from air–water interfaces. We use laser to study single air–water interfaces and show polarization, angle of incidence, and wavelength dependent responses, peaking at green where bulk water does not absorb.

Raman and infrared absorption spectra and temperature distribution in air show the existence of water clusters under light.

We suggest the photomolecular effect provides a mechanism to resolve the long-standing puzzle of larger measured solar absorptance of clouds than theoretical predictions based on bulk water optical constants and demonstrate that visible light can heat up clouds.
Our work suggests that photomolecular evaporation is prevalent in nature.


Although water is almost transparent to visible light, we demonstrate that the air–water interface interacts strongly with visible light via what we hypothesize as the photomolecular effect. In this effect, transverse-magnetic polarized photons cleave off water clusters from the air–water interface.

We use 14 different experiments to demonstrate the existence of this effect and its dependence on the wavelength, incident angle, and polarization of visible light.
We further demonstrate that visible light heats up thin fogs, suggesting that this process can impact weather, climate, and the earth’s water cycle and that it provides a mechanism to resolve the long-standing puzzle of larger measured clouds absorption to solar radiation than theory could predict based on bulk water optical constants.
Our study suggests that the photomolecular effect should happen widely in nature, from clouds to fogs, ocean to soil surfaces, and plant transpiration and can also lead to applications in energy and clean water.


Way cool. And to think that Einstein figured this out in 1921. He was kinda smart. :smiley: