Sols have a significant role in materials science. In 1956, one of the authors, Royb
wrote a review paper [2
] describing his development of a new process for making ultra pure, ultra fine ceramics. It was the birth of the “sol–gel” process. (also Ref [3
]) which, after 3–4 decades became the standard route for fine ceramic synthesis used in some 50,000 papers. The second generation 1987 review of the field by Roy [3
] includes the development of di-phasic aquasols (i.e. mixed nano-solids in the same liquid, water) as the route to ultrahomogeous nanocomposites. A relevant finding from this work is the remarkable phenomenon of solid state epitaxy
where one solid phase–usually crystalline–can serve as a template and impart its structure to the amorphous solid
phase to ‘force’ the amorphous phase to crystallize in the crystalline structure of the template [4
]. Could solids suspended in water also impart structure to the liquid phase? This might explain what has proven to be an extremely intriguing problem, i.e. the surprising health effects of ultradilute sols, especially those involving metallic solids, containing say, 1–10 atom ppm of the suspended solids.
Textbooks on the phase rule and thermodynamics have always been unclear on the key question: “Is say a 0.1 to 1% sol of clay in water, one phase or two?” In other words, does the sol have a unique structure? This question becomes very relevant in explaining the biological activities of such materials. Recently there has been a flurry of patents and papers on the anti-microbial properties of metal aquasols with concentration in the range of 1 atom ppm. [9
]. Our own detailed work of Ag-aquasols is an example of a thorough characterization of such materials [10
]. Colloids, specifically, including metallic sols, have been studied by more of the greatest scientists over decades than any other similar category of materials. In his most cited paper on Brownian motion in 1905, Einstein is [11
] apocryphally reported to have commented that a “colloid acts like an atom,” implying, presumably, some “structuring” of the water by the presence of the charged solid phase.
Ultra dilute sols (containing ~ ppm solids) [12
] have very surprising biological properties. (Table 1 in Ref [10
]). Is the presence of the silver (or other active ingredient in the solvent) changing the structure of the water—as a single phase in the phase rule sense? These are the questions we answer empirically herein. Along a similar line, we undertook in the present research to study a group of other ultradilute sols of both inorganic and organic solutes, which have for 200 years claimed remarkable biological activity. The present study targets only structural changes in both dilute and ultra dilute aquasols and alcosols employing primarily spectroscopic analytical tool to evaluate possible significant structural changes.