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Physics

Ice at 105 degrees Celsius

Water confined in very small environments can exhibit surprising behaviors, such as temperature alterations in which it changes its physical state. A study by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has shown that instead of evaporating, water solidifies between 105 and 151 degrees Celsius when it is kept inside carbon nanotubes with a diameter of 1.05 to 1.06 nanometers (Nature Nanotechnology, November 28, 2016). “If you confine a fluid to a nanocavity, you can distort its phase behavior,” says chemical engineer Michael Strano, principal author of the study. “But the effect on water was greater than we had anticipated.” The fact that water entered the carbon nanotubes was a surprise in itself, since these tiny structures are considered to be hydrophobic. The discovery could have potential use in the future for building ice-filled wires that conduct electricity.

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