Scientists Unexpectedly Discover Weird New Form of Ice During Experiment – Slashdot

When shaken and chilled to minus 320 degrees Fahrenheit, ordinary frozen water “turns into something different,” reports the New York Times, “a newly discovered form of ice made of a jumble of molecules with unique properties.”
The ice of our everyday lives consists of water molecules lined up in a hexagonal pattern, and those hexagonal lattices neatly stack on top of each other…. With permutations of temperature and pressure outside what generally occurs on Earth, water molecules can be pushed into other crystal structures.

“This is completely unexpected and very surprising,” said Christoph Salzmann, a chemistry professor at University College London in England and an author of a paper published on Thursday in the journal Science that described the ice…. The new discovery shows, once again, that water, a molecule without which life is not known to be able to exist, is still hiding scientific surprises yet to be revealed. This experiment employed relatively simple, inexpensive equipment to reveal a form of ice that could exist elsewhere in the solar system and throughout the universe.
And according to LiveScience, the new form of ice has some unusual properties:

Among them, Salzmann said, is that when the researchers compressed the medium-density ice and heated it to minus 185 F (minus 120 C), the ice recrystallized, releasing a large amount of heat. “With other forms of [amorphous] ice, if you compress them and you release the pressure, it’s like nothing happened,” Salzmann said. “But the MDA [medium-density amorphous ice] somehow has this ability to store the mechanical energy and release it through heating.”

Medium-density amorphous ice might occur naturally on the ice moons of gas giant planets, Salzmann said, where the gravitational forces of the enormous worlds compress and shear the moons’ ice. If so, the mechanical energy stored in this form of ice could influence the tectonics on these Hoth-like moons….

Scientists still debate the nature of water at extremely low temperatures. Any debate now needs to take into account medium-density amorphous ice, Salzmann said.
Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader fahrbot-bot for submitting the article.

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