Ice is deemed to be rigid and brittle, but that’s not the case anymore. The bending of ice is a new fact, these tiny strands of ice made by scientists are capable of curling and uncurling and don’t break when strain is applied making them the most flexible ice ever made (freaking cool right). Now, this astonishing creation comes from China by Limin Tong at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou and his colleagues who made the most elastic water ice ever.
When ice is subject to the right circumstances, it shows properties like flexibility and pliableness. These tiny strands have a 4.4-micrometre diameter and could be bent into a near-circular shape when the right amount of pressure is employed. On the release of constraint, this strand will automatically turn into its original configuration.
How was The Flexible Ice Fibre created?
An experiment was conducted to formulate this astonishing ice fibre which consisted of a tungsten needle in an ultracold chamber, with minus 50 degrees Celsius temperature, which was much colder than the previous attempt. Then water vapour was released into the chamber, and the desired electric field was applied. The water molecules accumulate at the tip of the needle, where crystallization occurred and a 10-micrometre (smaller than the hair) microfiber was obtained.
In the next step, researchers tried to bend the ice fibre by reducing the temperature between minus 70 and minus 150 degrees Celsius. It was at minus 150 degrees Celsius that the fibre was able to bend into a near-circular shape of a radius of 20 micrometres. This explained that the elastic strain was 10.9 per cent.
According to the theoretical data, the elastic strain limit is 15 per cent maximum. However, in the real world, only 0.3 per cent elastic strain was observed. But this discovery enabled an elastic strain of 10.9 per cent, which is a great deal. When the ice was released it sprung to its prior shape.
Researchers also tried to attach an optical light at one end of the microfibre. And observed that multiple wavelengths were transmitted through the fibre. The transmission of light was similar to the optical fibre cable.
Two different types of ice were used to make the microfibers, each with different densities, and it lacked the defects associated with conventional ice. Their internal structure was a honeycomb pattern with single crystals and a repeating atom arrangement. All this led to the ice microfibre.
The elastic ice microfibre may open paths for the study of ice physics, and with the exploration in ice physics, many doors shall also open for new technology. It is astounding to see what scientists can do just with frozen water, and thereby it will be desperate to see how far we can push our limits.