Let's say you have a dielectric liquid like pure water consisting of only $\ce{H2O}$ molecules (without autoionization of water), can one pass a high enough voltage through it and cause electrical breakdown in which the molecular bonds are broken, thereby turning the pure water into a conductor, in order to decompose water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen? If so, how does this electrical breakdown work?

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    $\begingroup$ Ever heard about electrolysis? Well, it is a thing. Do you need an electrical breakdown for it? No. Will breakdown help? No, quite the contrary. How does a breakdown occur? See this: chemistry.stackexchange.com/questions/55084/… $\endgroup$ Mar 14 at 22:06
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    $\begingroup$ Suggest: in an age of organic electronics, a perhaps more interesting direction to address the question could deal e.g., single-molecule «wires» in lieu of water. Because - as small the autodissociation of water is - oligoynes ($\ce{-C-C#C-C#C{}-}$) do not present this property. See e.g., Nichols et al. The Single-Molecule Electrical Conductance of a Rotaxane-Hexayne Supramolecular Assembly in Nanoscale 2016 (doi.org/10.1039/C6NR06355A, open access pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlelanding/2017/NR/C6NR06355A). $\endgroup$
    – Buttonwood
    Mar 14 at 22:15
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    $\begingroup$ Given sufficient voltage, any compound can be broken. Consider that lightning tears apart stable N≡N bonds. $\endgroup$ Mar 14 at 23:30
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    $\begingroup$ Please ask one thing at a time and review terms and concepts. You are mixing questions about a hypothetical substance (non-ionizable water), then unknowingly proposing a hypothetical mechanism as if it were factual, and then finally asking how something works which is sensible (how does "electrical breakdown" or "dielectric breakdown" happen). $\endgroup$
    – Buck Thorn
    Mar 15 at 6:31
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    $\begingroup$ Pure H2O does contain ions, just very few, so normal electrolysis is impractical. You seem to suggest electrolysis in breakdown mode. This might kinda work, but the idea is frightening on more than one level. $\endgroup$ Mar 15 at 8:02


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