Room Temperature Ice

Some scientists claim to be able to make room temperature ice (yes, I presume at 1 atm pressure).  Not sure what to make of it:

Earth's climate is strongly influenced by the presence of particles of different shapes and origins "” in the form of dust, ice and pollutants "” that find their way into the lowest portion of the atmosphere, the troposphere. There, water adsorbed on the surface of these particles can freeze at higher temperatures than pure water droplets, triggering rain and snow.Researchers at Spain's Centre d'Investigació en Nanociència i Nanotecnologia (CIN2) have studied the underlying mechanisms of water condensation in the troposphere and found a way to make artificial materials to control water condensation and trigger ice formation at room temperature. Described in the Journal of Chemical Physics, which is published by the American Institute of Physics, their work may lead to new additives for snowmaking, improved freezer systems, or new coatings that help grow ice for skating rinks.

The next step? The researchers' goal now is to produce environmentally-friendly synthetic materials for efficiently inducing snow. "If water condenses in an ordered way, such as a hexagonal structure, on such surfaces at ambient conditions, the term "˜room temperature ice' would be fully justified," adds Verdaguer. "The solid phase, ice, would be produced by a surface effect rather than as a consequence of temperature. In the long term, we intend to prepare smart materials, "˜intelligent surfaces,' that will react to water in a predefined way."

I remember some work on how water boiling could be suppressed by polishing surfaces where bubbles form (watch a pot of water boiling, the bubbles appear on the pan surfaces).  I presume this may be a related effect.


  1. rxc:

    It seems to me that what they produced is a mon-mulecular, well-ordered layer of H20 on the surface of this crystal, and decided to call it "ice". "Useful ice", however, would be something that could be used to cool some other substance, and this involves an energy transfer, of which there is no discussion here. Sounds like a good topic for further research...

  2. TomB:

    This was in a Kurt Vonnegut book, Cat's Cradle.

  3. Mike:

    You missed the best part! The material they were studying when they discovered the effect was a mineral BaF2 called "Frankdicksonite".
    Ya gotts love scientists. Any group that comes up w/ leptons, muons and quarks can't be all bad.

  4. ADiff:

    Lovely.... Interesting research, but presented in a way senseless to a common understanding. They might call a very thin (single molecular depth) latticed layer "ice", and within a pedantically strict interpretation of the definition they might even be considered (from a limited perspective) correct, but that isn't "ice" in any other regard at all. Use of the terminology beggars deceit, and encourages fundamental mis-understanding by the general public. I wish I could say I believed this inadvertent and disingenuous, but I do not. I rather suspect they realize exactly what they're doing, and their intention is to sensationalize their work, exaggerate it's import, and thus enhance both their professional significance and likelihood of funding. It's cheap, derogatory to the reputation and character of their profession, and only too remincent of the kinds of exaggerations and malapropisms used to sensationalize so much work in the field of climate 'science'.

  5. pegr:

    TomB beat me to it. Otherwise, what happens when ice-9 is exposed to plain old water? Yup, it all becomes ice-9! We could all drive to Europe from North America!