Ice-Eleven

November 30th, 2006 | researchmaterial

Also known as ferroelectric ice. From Physorg:

Various forms of ice have been found in many locations within the frigid reaches of our galaxy, from interstellar clouds to comets, moons, and planets. But a particularly intriguing and rare type, “ferroelectric” ice – ice crystallized so perfectly that it can sustain a giant electric field – has never been detected by astronomers.

A recent study, however, has produced evidence that ferroelectric ice, also known as ice XI, likely does exist out there. Performed by a team of scientists from the U.S. and Japan, the study revealed a very narrow range of temperatures in which “normal” ice can transform into ice XI in nature. The research was led by Hiroshi Fukazawa, a scientist at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency.

Normal ice, which forms all natural snow and ice on Earth, is known to scientists as “ice Ih,” where the ‘h’ stands for hexagonal, the shape of the molecular crystal. In ice Ih, the bonds between the hydrogen and oxygen atoms are oriented randomly, resulting in a crystal that looks fairly messy. At very low temperatures, however, the bonds begin to line up and point in the same direction; high pressure enhances this ordering effect. As a result, the tiny electric fields naturally carried by each water molecule add up to produce one large field…


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