At extreme heat, water inside carbon nanotube turns solid

By Brian Ang Dec 01, 2016 11:08 AM EST
Instead of boiling, carbon nanotube-restrained water solidifies
UNSPECIFIED - SEPTEMBER 07: This is a model of a carbon nanotube. Carbon nanotubes are as stiff as diamond, 100 times stronger than steel and 6 times lighter than steel. These are all attributes that make them an ideal material for sports equipment, where strength and light weight are essential. (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)

At a hundred degrees Celsius or 212 Fahrenheit, water boils. When liquid gets placed in tight containers, the boiling or freezing points usually adjust by about a few degrees.

As of late, scientific experts may change the way water is viewed when restricted to the smallest spaces available. Carbon nanotubes may seem familiar but its dimensions are practically interesting. The measurements of this domain are in nanometers or billionths of a meter.

Published on the Nature Nanotechnology journal, a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has unfolded that when water molecules gets restrained inside the tubes, they turn solid even at the highest temperature. In one of the tests, the fluid has hardened at 105 degrees Celsius.

Based on a research by Michael Strano, MIT's Carbon P. Dubbs Professor in Chemical Engineering, and his team, changes happen when water gets confined in a nanocavity. Although substances transform to solid, liquid or gas, what has happened during their experiments is indeed surprising.

It has been found that the process depended on the exact diameter of the tubes. As water molecules pass through the carbon pipe, both ends had been left open. Considering that the environment is so tiny, understanding the behavior of the carbon particles is difficult. The main reason behind this pertains to the reality that the space remains unexplored.

Earlier tests have failed to come up with any conclusive result since team members were not able to study the properties of the carbon nanotubes. Not knowing the exact sizes of those pipes have led to contrasting endings.

To get a closer glimpse of the developments inside the tubes, Strano and his colleagues utilized a very sensitive imaging system called vibrational spectroscopy which monitors water movement inside the tiny spaces.

During the team's investigation, scientists suggest that water molecules have hardened based on the presence of ice crystals. The solid phase has only been pointed out because they failed to identify or determine what these crystalline structures actually are.

Since the solidified liquid does not melt even beyond extreme temperature, its indefinite constancy can be useful for future applications. For instance, ice wires can be used as medium for conductive materials since water is at least ten times faster in driving protons.

 

 

 

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