School children learn that water has three phases: solid, liquid and vapor. In 2003 Pollack's group discovered a fourth phase. This phase occurs next to water-loving (hydrophilic) surfaces. It projects out from those surfaces by up to millions of molecular layers. And, its physical and chemical properties differ from those of ordinary liquid water. For example, the fourth phase massively excludes substances, much the same as ice.
Subsequent experiments show that this fourth phase is charged; and, the water just beyond is oppositely charged — creating a battery that can produce current. Light charges this battery. Thus, water receives and processes electromagnetic energy (light) drawn from the environment in much the same way as plants. This absorbed energy can be exploited for performing chemical, electrical, or mechanical work.
These new discoveries are rich with implication. Not only do they provide an understanding of how water processes solar and other energies, but also they provide a foundation for a fresh and ultimately simpler explanation of natural phenomena ranging from weather and green energy to biological phenomena such as the origin of life, transport, and osmosis.