Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Better understanding of water's freezing behavior at nanoscale

Date:
May 21, 2013
Source:
George Washington University
Summary:
The results of a new study provide direct computational evidence that nucleation of ice in small droplets is strongly size-dependent, an important conclusion in understanding water's behavior at the nanoscale.

Ice cube (stock image). According to a new study, nucleation of ice in small droplets is strongly size-dependent, an important conclusion in understanding water's behavior at the nanoscale.
Credit: Natika / Fotolia

The results of a new study led by George Washington University Professor Tianshu Li provide direct computational evidence that nucleation of ice in small droplets is strongly size-dependent, an important conclusion in understanding water's behavior at the nanoscale. The formation of ice at the nanoscale is a challenging, basic scientific research question whose answer also has important implications for climate research and other fields.

The crystallization of ice from supercooled water is generally initiated by a process called nucleation. Because of the speed and size of nucleation -- it occurs within nanoseconds and nanometers -- probing it by experiment or simulation is a major challenge.

By using an advanced simulation method, Dr. Li and his collaborators, Davide Donadio of Germany's Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, and Giulia Galli, a professor of chemistry and physics at the University of California, Davis, were able to demonstrate that nucleation of ice is substantially suppressed in nano-sized water droplets. Their paper, "Ice nucleation at the nanoscale probes no man's land of water," was published today in the journal Nature Communications.

"A current challenge for scientists is to unveil water's behaviors below -35 degrees Celsius and above -123 degrees Celsius, a temperature range that chemists call 'no man's land,' " said Dr. Li, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science. "Fast ice crystallization can hardly be avoided at such low temperatures, so maintaining water in a liquid state is a major experimental challenge."

Since the frequency of ice nucleation scales with the volume of water, one of the strategies for overcoming this kinetic barrier is to reduce the volume of water. However, this raises the question of whether water at the nanoscale can still be regarded as equivalent to bulk water, and if not, where that boundary would be.

The team's results answer this question. By showing that the ice nucleation rate at the nanoscale can be several orders of magnitude smaller than that of bulk water, they demonstrate that water at such a small scale can no longer be considered bulk water.

"We also predict where this boundary would reside at various temperatures," Dr. Li said. The boundary refers to the size of the droplet where the difference vanishes. The team's findings will help with the interpretation of molecular beam experiments and set the guidelines for experiments that probe the 'no man's land' of water.

The results are also of importance in atmospheric science, as they may improve the climate model of the formation of ice clouds in upper troposphere, which effectively scatter incoming solar radiation and prevent earth from becoming overheated by the sun. The results have important implications in climate control research, too. One of the current debates is whether the formation of ice occurs near the surface or within the micrometer-sized droplets suspended in clouds. If it is the former, effective engineering approaches may be able to be taken to tune the surface tension of water so that the ice crystallization rate can be controlled.

"Our results, indeed, support the hypothesis of surface crystallization of ice in microscopic water droplets," Dr. Li said. "Obtaining the direct evidence is our next step."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by George Washington University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tianshu Li, Davide Donadio, Giulia Galli. Ice nucleation at the nanoscale probes no man’s land of water. Nature Communications, 2013; 4: 1887 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms2918

Cite This Page:

George Washington University. "Better understanding of water's freezing behavior at nanoscale." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521152429.htm>.
George Washington University. (2013, May 21). Better understanding of water's freezing behavior at nanoscale. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521152429.htm
George Washington University. "Better understanding of water's freezing behavior at nanoscale." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130521152429.htm (accessed September 22, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Company Copies Keys From Photos

Company Copies Keys From Photos

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) A new company allows customers to make copies of keys by simply uploading a couple of photos. But could it also be great for thieves? Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Rockefeller Oil Heirs Switching To Clean Energy

Rockefeller Oil Heirs Switching To Clean Energy

Newsy (Sep. 22, 2014) The Rockefellers — heirs to an oil fortune that made the family name a symbol of American wealth — are switching from fossil fuels to clean energy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

Raw: SpaceX Rocket Carries 3-D Printer to Space

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) A SpaceX Rocket launched from Cape Canaveral, carrying a custom-built 3-D printer into space. NASA envisions astronauts one day using the printer to make their own spare parts. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Inside London's Massive Sewer Tunnel Project

Inside London's Massive Sewer Tunnel Project

AP (Sep. 22, 2014) Billions of dollars are being spent on a massive super sewer to take away London's vast output of waste, which is endangering the River Thames. (Sept. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins