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Study led by GW professor provides better understanding of water's freezing behavior at nanoscale
Date:5/21/2013

at 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."


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Contact: Joanne Welsh
jwelsh@gwu.edu
202-994-2050
George Washington University
Source:Eurekalert

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