TechIce defies physics. Startling discovery of melting at unearthly lows rocks scientific world

Ice defies physics. Startling discovery of melting at unearthly lows rocks scientific world

The water surprised the researchers.
The water surprised the researchers.
Images source: © Pexels

2:52 PM EST, January 6, 2024

Scientists were astounded to find ice can also melt far below freezing, a completely unexpected phenomenon. Researchers from Argonne National Laboratory shared this latest discovery in the journal PNAS.

Water's remaining mysteries

Despite being such a commonly encountered substance, there still seems to be much more to learn about water. An intriguing observation was made over 150 years ago by Michael Faraday, who noted that the surface of ice retains wetness even at below-freezing temperatures. His observation led to a debate on whether there could be conditions where water could coexist in all three states of matter. Intrigued by this question, Argonne scientists were able to observe the surface melting of ice at exceptionally low temperatures.

The attached video shows how, under constant pressure and a temperature of -189.67 degrees Fahrenheit, the spaces between ice crystals are filled with liquid water. To visualize the changes in the ice structure, the researchers employed aberration-corrected transmission electron microscopy, a technique that uses a special camera to record electrons. This method can be used to study various substances, including electrolytes, potentially revolutionizing the development of batteries. Liquid nitrogen was used to generate ice crystals for the study, which started at an initial temperature of -225.67 degrees Fahrenheit before slowly being raised. It was at these extremely low temperatures that surface melting was observed.

This study marks a significant step towards expanding our understanding of water. As more data is gathered, it's expected to provide insights into hypotheses that, to date, remain purely theoretical. The imaging technique employed by the Argonne National Laboratory team constitutes an essential piece of this scientific puzzle.

Ice Melting Example

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