Ice cubes? More like ice squares
Researchers have discovered a new shape for ice, or rather, ice crystals. The ice we’re familiar with in our freezers is made from a collection of water molecules arranged in a hexagonal orientation. But overnight, with the help of some graphene, a new, square version of ice was found.
Overnight, in this case, refers not to a fun twist of luck or accidental discovery, but how long water was left between two layers of graphene when the square-ice was created. Graphene is a sheet, one atom thick, of carbon atoms. As the sheets of carbon were pressed down on the water molecules, excess water was separated and evaporated, leaving only tiny deposits of water in the remaining space.
That remaining water then spontaneously hardened into crystal structures based around 90° angles, vs. the usual 109°, and all at room temperature. Aside from the outcome of strikingly different snowflakes (had enough of this ice been assembled as such), the researchers think that this structure and the physics that created it would help explain certain phenomena, like the speed of water permeating hydrophobic nanocapillaries. Which is good because that’s definitely been a head-scratcher around our household.
Source: Graphene allows strange form of ice to occur at room temperature by Shalini Saxena, Ars Technica