Scientists Discover a New Form of Ice

Scientists Discover a New Form of Ice

How ice forms is a story that’s as cool as the cubes in your drink. You see, when the temperature drops, water molecules start to slow down. And when they slow down enough, they begin to stick together, forming clusters and eventually solidifying into the frozen form we all know and love (or hate, depending on the weather).

But wait, it gets better! If you’re making ice in your freezer, the water molecules freeze from the top down, creating a layer of ice that floats on the liquid water below. This is why ice cubes in your drink are always floating, because they’re made of frozen H2O, which is less dense than liquid H2O.

Meanwhile, scientists have discovered that ice can take even another form than what was previously known.

Meet the ‘amorphous ice’

A new type of ice, called “amorphous ice,” has been discovered with a density nearly equal to that of liquid water, and ScienceNews tells us more. This means that if you placed it in a glass of water, it would neither float nor sink. Scientists created this type of ice through a process called ball milling, which involved shaking ice and stainless steel balls cooled to nearly -200°C.

Christoph Salzmann, the study’s senior author, explained, as LiveScience quotes:

With other forms of [amorphous] ice, if you compress them and you release the pressure, it’s like nothing happened,

But the MDA [medium-density amorphous ice] somehow has this ability to store the mechanical energy and release it through heating.

The discovery was unexpected, and computer simulations revealed that a disordered structure was produced by layers of ice sliding past each other in random directions. The relationship of the new ice to liquid water is unknown and more research is needed to determine if it can help scientists better understand water’s unique properties.


Cristian Antonescu

Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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