For many years scientists have tried to understand the unique properties of ice in terms of the behavior of the molecules in the topmost layer. However, despite extensive studies the exact structure and dynamical motion of the individual water molecules at the ice surface have remained elusive. An international team of physicists (J. Braun, A. Glebov, A. P. Graham, A. Menzel) in the group of Peter Toennies at the Max Planck Institute for Fluid Dynamics in Gφttingen have used the scattering of very low-energy He atoms for the successful analysis of the structural arrangement of water molecules on the ice surface and have also gained direct information on their vibrational motion. The results of these experiments, published in the March 23 issue of the Physical Review Letters [80, 2638 (1998)], indicate that the molecules are surprisingly mobile which explains many peculiarities in the interactions of ice with its environment.
The above story is based on materials provided by Max Planck Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
Cite This Page: